Wide open spaces

Wide open spaces

An efficient floor plan allows Town and Country Veterinary Hospital in Warren, Ohio, to function well with fewer staff members. And visual openness helps everyone see where they can pitch in.
Jan 01, 2009

Leave the light on: The overhang and drive-through entrance allow clients to feel safe when entering this extended hours facility at night. It also protects clients from the brutal winter weather in Ohio. (Photos by William Webb, Infinity Studio Photography)
A consistently bad local economy and extended practice hours made staffing a headache for the doctors at Town and Country Veterinary Hospital in Warren, Ohio. Operating out of an old gas station and bursting at the seams, the owners knew they needed to make some changes to the design of their hospital. But they wanted to make sure they did it right, and that takes time.

Floor Plan Town and Country
"Our practice faces constant financial pressure from local steel mill closures, manufacturing plant bankruptcies, and a declining domestic automobile industry," says practice co-owner Dr. Charles Moxley. "During my first trip to the Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Conference, it became immediately obvious that careful attention to design would allow a hospital to operate efficiently with a minimum of staff members."

Treatment: The heart of the hospital, the treatment area was given special consideration by the hospital's owners, who planned for separate functions while maintaining ease of communication. Visual contact between the treatment area and the surgical center (below) helps the team maintain communication.
Dr. Moxley and his team decided to stay put in the short term, devising a plan that allows them to operate extended hours with only eight veterinarians and two to three fewer staff members than a normal hospital of this size would need. This allowed the practice to save money while planning for a future facility. In addition, the team had the framework for operating on this schedule in place before moving into a larger facility—a key to their success, Dr. Moxley says.

Surgery: The surgical center was grouped with prep, radiology, and recovery areas to prevent the overlap of outpatient services within the treatment area. This helps to maximize the open feeling of the hospital's floor plan and reduces the number of doors the doctors and team members must pass through.
But eventually it became clear that their small, outdated building wouldn't cut it. So Dr. Moxley and his co-owners ramped up the planning process for building a new facility. The entire project took 10 years from start to finish, but when all was said and done, Town and Country Veterinary Hospital had a large, inviting place to call home.

Maximizing space, minimizing steps

Waiting area: Receptionists have full visual command of client-accessible areas, including client hallways, while maintaining direct communication with the heart of the hospital. There are virtually no points in the building, except in the exam rooms, where clients encounter the doctors.
A key part of Town and Country's strategy for using fewer staff members is that everyone is able to see everyone else at any time. With the open floor plan, visual contact is possible from practically everywhere in the hospital. "If we have needs in a certain area, staff members can move to those needs rather than be sequestered," Dr. Moxley says. "Now when I have time on my hands in back, I can see where I'm needed and move there. From dead center of the hospital, we're only about eight steps from anywhere."