Pouncey Tract Veterinary Hospital in Glen Allen, Va.

Pouncey Tract Veterinary Hospital in Glen Allen, Va.

The owner of Pouncey Tract Veterinary Hospital in Glen Allen, Va., uses lessons from his first hospital to build his dream facility.
Apr 01, 2008

(Photo by Lee Brauer, Lee Brauer Photography)
Dr. Brad Zubowsky had a plan to own two hospitals—13 years after settling into his first facility, he bought a plot of land nine miles away to house hospital number two. But one day, a mental light bulb flashed and he realized that owning two practices wasn't his thing. "I'm particular about how things look," he says. "Cigarette butts on the sidewalks, animal waste in the yard—I couldn't worry about what was going on at two practices." So his associates purchased his first practice, and he started from scratch with a new hospital. The situation, he says, worked out great for everyone. Dr. Zubowsky's new facility, Pouncey Tract Veterinary Hospital in Glen Allen, Va., won a Merit Award in the 2008 Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Competition. His facility was also named best hospital in the 6,500-square-foot and smaller category.

Time and budget crunches

Dr. Zubowsky and his team had to be out of their previous facility by Oct. 31, 2006, and be open for business at the new facility by the end of the year, a plan that Dr. Zubowsky says was a bit of a stretch. "I was going to be in trouble financially if we didn't meet that timetable," he says. The most difficult task was pushing to get the occupancy permits on time. "I grayed hair that year—building and selling—and if everything didn't go right, I was going to be the owner of two hospitals," he says.

And the inevitable happened: The project went over budget. "No matter what you do, every detail adds up," he says. "If a piece of equipment isn't installed on time, it costs money. Or if the Virginia Department of Transportation says you're going to put in a turn lane in front of your building, you have to put in a turn lane." During the 60 days before closing on the new building, installing that turn lane cost Dr. Zubowsky $87,000. If he hadn't completed the job, the VDOT would have refused to grant the occupancy permits. "Those are the things that give you ulcers," he says, "when you have to go back to the bank and say, 'Guys, I need another $90,000.'"

Exterior: The hospital was designed to have strong visual appeal on all four sides so that it matches the style and character of the neighborhood. The outcome was a building that looks more residential in character than a typical veterinary hospital. (Photo by Lee Brauer, Lee Brauer Photography)

(Photo by Lee Brauer, Lee Brauer Photography)

Another reason for high costs, Dr. Zubowsky says, was that the building had to be aesthetically pleasing from all four sides in order to comply with zoning restrictions and to please nearby residents. "We're an island surrounded by residential developments," he says. "And I wanted to be sure those folks were happy to have us here."

Waiting area: Built-in bench seating allows for a comfortable view of the gas log fireplace. (Photo by Lee Brauer, Lee Brauer Photography)
Zoning restrictions called for a brick exterior with no blank or empty walls—there had to be windows on all four sides of the building. But the kennel posed a problem because it backed up to a housing development. To combat noise, contractors built a glass-block wall inside the exterior wall, but from the outside, the windows looked just like rest of the hospital. "I was paranoid about the noise and wasn't sure how well the acoustic barriers would work," Dr. Zubowsky says. One day, when he had five howling Labs in the kennel, Dr. Zubowsky went outside, stood in the yard, and listened. From 10 feet away, he couldn't hear a thing—much to his relief.