The grass is greener

The grass is greener

Animal Medical & Surgical Center in Scottsdale, Ariz., is the 2008 Veterinary Economics Hospital of the Year.
Mar 01, 2008

Dr. Charles Pullen first heard the news from his daughter Lindsey. He was coming out of one surgery and heading to another when Lindsey approached him, together with his practice manager and business manager. They said they wanted to talk in his office. Dr. Pullen told them he didn't have time and asked if this was something that could wait, but they told him it would just take a minute. A little perturbed, Dr. Pullen agreed to meet with them. "They pulled me into the office and Lindsey said, 'I want to tell you that your greatest dream has come true.' I said, 'Which one?' And she told me we won Hospital of the Year," Dr. Pullen says. "We all shouted and jumped around like we were at a football game."

The look of a winner: Pop-up rooflines, attractive overhangs, arched windows, and subtle earth tones give Animal Medical & Surgical Center the look of a professional medical complex without the industrial feeling. Dr. Charles Pullen wanted the hospital to be situated among other professional medical buildings, not gas stations and fast food restaurants. Photo by Al Payne, A.F. Payne Photographic Inc.

Floor Plan: Animal Medical & Surgical Center. Photos by Jessica Costillon and Stephen M. Pullen.

Dr. Pullen's dream of a new facility was a slow-moving one. Although he'd thought about building for several years, he wasn't entirely comfortable with the idea at first. His old hospital was in a part of town that had seen better days, but it was paid for and his overhead was low—he was making a profit. But being a perfectionist, he wasn't thrilled about the impression his 3,000-square-foot, 30-year-old building made on new clients and referral practices. And when he looked ahead to his retirement, he wondered what kind of facility would truly reflect the accomplishments he'd achieved during his career. It didn't take long to come up with the answer: a Mayo Clinic for pets. "People ask me why I did this at the end of my career," Dr. Pullen says. "For me it's an investment."

Get the look: A welcoming reception. Photo by Al Payne, A.F. Payne Photographic Inc.

Surgery: Dr. Pullen spends the majority of his time in surgery, so he designed the suite exactly how he wanted it. The three operating tables are arranged so they can all be serviced by the same instrument room. The floor-to-ceiling glass wall creates a major-surgery suite for advanced procedures and prevents air movement from the minor-surgery suite—without making the two spaces feel closed in. A remote-controlled camera allows clients to observe their pets' surgery and also records the procedure on DVD for clients or referring doctors. Photo by Stephen M. Pullen.