Your Veterinary Voice episode 4: Meet Heather Lewis, AIA, NCARB

July 13, 2016

You might wonder why a veterinary podcast is doing interviewing an architect. But Heather Lewis, partner at Animal Arts, a firm in Boulder, Colorado, is no ordinary architectshe's also a devoted advocate of minimizing pets' stress and anxiety during their veterinary visits. And she's got a lot to tell you!

Heather Lewis, AIA, NCARB, champion of stressed pets everywhere.Think you have nothing to glean from listening to an editor interview an architect? Think again. Business Channel Director Brendan Howard speaks to veterinary architect Heather Lewis-who makes us laugh, sure, but who is also incredibly insightful on the topic of Fear Free design. So much so, she was asked specifically by the movement's founder (you might be familiar with Dr. Marty Becker) to be a part of his Fear Free Advisory Board.

So, yeah, her ideas are awesome. And she's a warm, funny soul who can easily transition from comparing veterinary clinics to human ER rooms (where she once sat with a cut finger next to a man who was shot in the face-true story!)




Short on time? Worry not, friend! We break down the interview and give you resources to the great content Heather, and others, have supplied to dvm360.

At 2:30, Brendan jumps right in with a common practice owner worry of Fear Free design: It costs too much! But Heather has examples of ways veterinarians and team members can use her ideas to lower stress for pets on the cheap(ish)-especially for cats.

>>> Here are ideas for frugal design with felines in mind.

>>> And here's an evidence-based guide to pet-friendly practice, for all you doubters out there.

At 7:30, Heather and Brendan discuss her "progressive" ways (hey, she's from Boulder!) and launch into her insight about the colors pets perceive, including how that might play into hospital design. We've talked with her about this before-don't miss the trippy gif!

At 11:00, Heather is especially enthusiastic about the level at which her clients want to focus on Fear Free design in the exam room.

>>> That's not all-Heather's got Fear Free ideas for every practice, from simple tricks to larger built-in items.

>>> She is also working on designing mobile ottomans for veterinarians who want to "get down on the floor" while examining their patients. Fun!

At 16:00, Brendan flips the script and asks Heather to talk about low-stress design ideas that she's NOT a fan of, and why.

>>> Here she discusses the debate over isolation wards. After all, placement of a clinic's isolation ward is a divisive subject. Does it go near treatment for quick access? Or is it in the far reaches of the facility? How about in a separate, dedicated building?

At 22:00, Brendan wonders if Fear Free hospital design could change everything. Heather answers that the practices who are "bought in" to the concept are markedly different, then and now.

>>> Here are a couple examples of practices who are functioning differently. You be the judge!

At 28:05, Heather is asked what she fears most about the future, and her answer is (of course) a thoughtful, reasoned response about the difficulties with cost to build hospitals and the industry's issues with debt.

>>>We're not blowing smoke here- we can't find a practice consultant who thinks a veterinarian can't get money to buy or start a practice. Shocking, right?

>>> And if you're closer than that … use this checklist prior to buying.