Small-scale success: Butterfield Animal Hospital

Small-scale success: Butterfield Animal Hospital

A smaller, more intimate practice suits this California doctor—and his clients—just fine.
Feb 01, 2010

Photos courtesy of Larry Falke/Falke Photography
Having worked at emergency, corporate, and referral hospitals with up to 25 doctors on staff, Dr. Kenneth Kalthoff knows what it's like to practice in a large facility. And, frankly, it's not his cup of tea. So when he got the notion to open his own practice, he set out to downscale in a big way.

"I realized that you don't need to build a giant practice with many doctors to be successful in this day and age," Dr. Kalthoff says. "A lot of economic gurus think it's a waste of equipment to build such a small practice, but I think there's a place for small practices in our field." Dr. Kalthoff says a lot of clients still want to come and see one or two doctors and don't want to be overwhelmed with a lot of space and people.

Floor Plan
So Dr. Kalthoff made up his wish list—quite an extensive one—and set to work figuring out how to fit it all into a small-scale facility. He succeeded, opening Butterfield Animal Hospital in Temecula, Calif., in April 2007. (See the first-floor plan below to see the results.) And his efforts have paid off, with a Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Competition Merit Award. As reasons for their votes, competition judges cited the practice's generous floor plan, high-quality materials, and overall beauty.

Finding inspiration

First things first, Dr. Kalthoff had to find a good piece of land. And in 2006, the economy had yet to sour—meaning real estate in California was expensive and difficult to come by. He eventually found a modestly sized leasehold space that would fit the bill for a small, family-friendly practice. Dr. Kalthoff's wish list included:

Reception area: A custom central seating island with back-to-back seats helps break the waiting room down into three groupings.
Accessibility to reception. "I didn't want receptionists walled off from clients," he says. "I've seen that in previous facilities. The clients sit there saying, 'Are people still here?'"

Warmth. Interior color inspiration came from a simple source: Dr. Kalthoff's wife's candle. "She brought a candle to a meeting with our interior designer and said we wanted those colors in the clinic to give the lobby a spa-like feel," he says. "The candle inspired us to use warm colors, comfortable furniture, and lots of windows for an open feel."

Surgery: This surgery area—along with the ICU recovery cages and isolation area—is easily visible for monitoring from the treatment area. Eight-foot-tall ­storefront windows and a dual-action oversized door complete the surgical suite.
Efficiency and ease. Dr. Kalthoff wanted the back of the hospital to be clean, professional, and easy to maneuver in. One trick: rounded corners for better flow and less snagging.

Dog ward: Custom cages at one end of the treatment area keep noise down but make sure patients aren't forgotten.
Wireless and paperless technology. Lots of outlets, Ethernet connections, and computer stations, along with a digital radiography system and computerized records, were requirements for this practice. "My staff members are younger, and they're comfortable with technology," he says. "I knew they would pick it up easily."

Pharmacy and lab: The lab and pharmacy are located between the exam rooms and ­treatment ­areas for quick access. A write-up ­station for doctors sits nearby.
Other must-haves included three exam rooms, an isolation ward, a look that complemented the exterior of the building, a quiet place for cats, and an employee break room. All of his wishes were met except for the break room. There was simply no space left.