The scoop from the Hospital Design judging

Last Monday (Jan. 5) was the annual Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Competition judging, and I got to spend about a day and a half in a Marriott meeting room with four very classy gentlemen who agreed to judge our entries this year: architect Dan Chapel, architect Brad Rabinowitz, and Drs. Ross Clark and Dennis Cloud, both longtime practice owners. These guys, all veteran Hospital Design judges, didn’t need me; I was just there basically to be the hostess for the event—and sign the tab when we finished up with lunch and dinner.

But I learned a lot and picked up some interesting tidbits along the way (the collective knowledge of these veterinary-industry warlords would fill a bank vault), which I now pass on for your edification:

The market seems to be ripe for acupuncture and other complementary therapies. A veterinarian Dr. Cloud knows who has branched into this area has a full appointment schedule and clients who drive two hours for treatments. This at a time when demand for more traditional care, such as therapeutic diets, may be down. 

More people who are undertaking veterinary building projects have to jump through more hoops to see their dreams realized. This includes educating bankers on what’s involved in the construction of a veterinary hospital in order to get appropriate loans and even lobbying Congress to maintain a Small Business Association loan program so that financing doesn’t fall apart.

This year’s field of hospital entries was one of the strongest ever, the judges agreed, with a very high overall average hospital. More women and more startup practices were represented, lots of color was used in hospital interiors, and many of the projects were renovations of existing structures—though not necessarily at a savings over building new.

But of course the main event was to choose the Hospital of the Year and 10 Merit Award winners, and I’m not spilling the beans on that one—you’ll have to wait for the March issue of the magazine. But in the meantime, check out the hospitals and vote for your favorite in our all-new People’s Choice Award. Will your pick match the judges’?

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