Medicine in the mountains

A relaxing vacation inspired Western Carolina Regional Animal Hospital in Flat Rock, N.C., a rustic masterpiece that reflects the hospital's beautiful mountainous surroundings.
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Jul 01, 2009

Sometimes, a breath of fresh air and a splash of sunshine can help cluttered minds think clearly. Such was the case for Drs. Fred Rosen and Ted Owen. Ever the outdoor enthusiasts, the two were whitewater kayaking when inspiration struck. Dr. Rosen, a recently retired veterinarian, had been considering a return to the profession. Dr. Owen, an associate at a nearby practice, decided he was ready to become a practice owner. And just like that, Western Carolina Regional Animal Hospital and Veterinary Emergency Hospital was born.


Long time coming: Dr. Fred Rosen designed the floor plan for Western Carolina Regional Animal Hospital and six years prior to its construction. (Photos by Carroll Foster)
Of course, bringing an idea to fruition is easier said than done. But Dr. Rosen had already completed a large portion of the work—six years before the kayaking trip, he had designed his ideal floor plan. After finding the perfect space in the mountainous town of Flat Rock, N.C., the duo got started on making their dream practice happen.

APPLYING ELBOW GREASE

To keep the project on budget, Drs. Rosen and Owen installed most of the electrical and HVAC systems themselves. "We've both done a lot of construction before, so we were pretty comfortable with it," Dr. Rosen says. The doctors also did the finish work on the second floor, which includes a conference room and an on-call room.


FLOOR PLAN
Between hanging duct work and running electrical wires, Drs. Rosen and Owen consulted on the building's design features. "We wanted a design that goes with this area," Dr. Rosen says. The doctors gained inspiration from local buildings and environmental features. Their ideas contributed to the practice's style, which includes stone exterior columns, earthy paint colors, and large glass windows. "I love the glass everywhere," Dr. Rosen says. "We have great views of the mountains."

BRINGING THE OUTDOORS INSIDE

The rustic feel continues in the practice's reception area. A stone wall behind the reception desk matches the exterior columns and displays a sculpture of the practice's logo, which was designed by Dr. Rosen's son. Retail shelving allows clients to browse through products while they wait, and dark wood doors and trim throughout the space complete the outdoor look.

The practice's clinical functions revolve around the treatment area, a 1,200-square-foot space in the center of the hospital. Islands and countertops give team members lots of space to work, and three large glass walls provide the area with bright natural light. From the treatment area, team members can view and move easily to the ICU, surgery suite, lab, radiology room, special procedures room, and break room.

FINDING SHELTER FROM THE STORM


A look at the numbers
Despite building during an uncertain economic time, Dr. Rosen says the practice is thriving. One of the reasons for this success is the doctors' persistence and willingness to meet challenges head-on. "A lot of articles said we couldn't do this," Dr. Rosen says. "We looked at the demographics and financial figures and decided we could."

Perhaps more important than the practice's financial success is the loyalty clients already show. Since the closest 24-hour practice is 22 miles away, pet owners are grateful to have a local emergency practice. "The response from referral veterinarians and the community has just been tremendous," Dr. Rosen says. "The best part is seeing people's faces when they walk in the front door for the first time."

While the building is impressive, the practice is still focused on its patients. The floor plan includes plenty of room for clients to see their pets while they recover from treatment—or even stay with them overnight. "It's very rewarding to see people who care so much about their dogs' or cats' well-being," Dr. Rosen says. "We made sure to include plenty of extra room for clients to be with their pets."