What’s a good sign of a hospital design done right? For Scott Morey, DVM, MS, co-owner of Fenton River Veterinary Hospital in Stafford Springs, Connecticut, it’s a journey through the entire veterinary office before leaving as that final, wistful look isn’t enough to capture the full pictures.
“Every time I leave here, I pull back and look back at the building for a minute. I feel satisfied having an idea and sticking it through to the finished product, ”says Morey.
Morey is co-owner of the practice with his wife Heidi Morey, MS, DVM, who spends most of the time continuing to work one town in her original practice.
The unique design not only catches Morey’s eye. It also impressed the jurors of the 2021 dvm360® Hospital Design Competition. Fenton River Veterinary Hospital received the highest award in the under 8,000 square foot division of the competition.
A dream and a design
Morey and his wife started their business as a mobile veterinary practice back in 2014. Business was booming and the couple quickly moved into a lease dream the next year. Due to the increasing demand for a large veterinary clinic, they have expanded the practice twice since then. After unsuccessfully looking for buildings to renovate or rent, the couple decided to build from scratch.
“The primary design goal was to create an upscale New England barn look with a warm ambience while still maintaining the feel of a modern hospital,” says Morey. “As a mixed animal practice, we needed both the inside and the outside of the building to reflect the type of animals we care for. We are cattle breeders and veterinarians at heart, which is reflected in the overall picture of the hospital. “
To begin with, Morey chose the shape and size of the building he wanted. He then worked with his architect to efficiently incorporate all the elements into the building. Morey wanted a large reception area with plenty of space for customers to spread out as they walk in – a design feature that serves Fenton River Veterinary Hospital well during these socially distant pandemic days.
Fully structured wooden frames in hammer beam style lend authenticity to the stable style he has chosen. Friends from his youth who own a hammer beam construction company helped make this design element a reality. As Morey puts it, “The beams you see aren’t just for decoration. Drag one down and the building will come with you. They are really structural. “
The wide veranda and the gable warmly welcome customers. Garage doors in the car house style and light accents in the gooseneck barn round off the look. The large animal part of the practice is at the rear of the hospital and offers easy access for these patients. There is surgery and treatment in front of the large animal area, with the exam rooms closer to the front of the hospital. This puts the treatment and surgery between the two parts of the practice for convenience and as a buffer.
Barn aesthetics without odors
Just because Morey wanted the hospital to look like a barn doesn’t mean it should smell like one. Since a large proportion of his patients were large animals, smells and sounds were very likely to enter the small animals and public areas of the hospital. For this reason, Morey paid particular attention to odor and noise protection functions.
“We wanted to create an indoor, air-conditioned large animal facility (important to New England) for exams, hospitalizations, and surgeries,” he says. “We also made sure that the surgery is close to the large animal area so that pigs, sheep and goats can easily be brought into and out of the operating room. Even farm animals deserve to be operated on in a clean operating room, which improves the quality of the drugs and surgeries we offer. “
The couple had a technical heating, ventilation and air conditioning system with 6 zones specially developed for odor and animal health. There are highly efficient air exchangers in each zone, and the large animal room has an oversized air exchanger and exhaust fan system. The large animal zone is also heated with a propane radiant tube heater.
“Highly efficient air exchangers for each zone with different fresh air inlets depending on the type of area to be served allow us to balance efficiency with odor and animal health,” he says. “All animal areas are in their own zones, with air recirculation removed from the odor-generating areas. As a result, customer areas cannot share air with odor-generating areas. We also have a total of 20 exhaust fans throughout the building. “
With well-controlled smells, they went a step further to ensure that noises are also blocked. Soundproofing all interior walls, including the walls above the suspended ceilings, helps to minimize noise. Fixed core doors throughout the building prevent large animal noises from passing through the building and prevent dog barks from hitting customers’ ears.
A word to the wise
As the voice of experience, Morey recommends that those looking to build should do their homework first.
Look at plans and photos of other hospitals and write down any ideas you like. Morey has read all the articles on dvm360® hospital design for the past 15 years. bought floor plan books from dvm360® and visited numerous hospitals to see what works.
“And don’t forget to ask other vets whatever they hate!” he says. “I’ve looked at many online veterinary office floor plans and photos of lobbies, exam rooms, and treatment areas. I also spoke to as many other vets as I could about their facilities and what they wished they had or could change. Knowing what isn’t working is just as helpful as knowing what is working. “
With that in mind, he warns that what you want to build is a personal decision that must be made for your practice alone. “I firmly believe that veterinary clinics should be designed to best suit the flow of veterinarians who work there. Just because another hospital has a particular plan or idea doesn’t mean it will benefit your personal workflow. “
In the end, Morey said he got the barn-look hospital that best suits his practice, with a convenient floor plan, great smell and noise protection, features that make practice easy, and lots of style. Best of all, it shows the type of medicine these doctors practice.
“This warm-home feeling that our building exudes is the same feeling that our doctors and technicians have for our patients and customers,” says Morey. “The people who work here feel good about the place; The building is a tool that facilitates the delivery of our care and informs the public about how we care for our customers and patients. “
Sarah A. Moser is a freelance writer based in Lenexa, Kan.