Here we grow again……

I have expanded the clinic twice already, but in smaller ways.  It always seems that we expand just enough to account for the current overgrowth and not for future growth.  It takes very little time for us to realize we have already outgrown our current boundaries.  With the amazing growth we have experienced in the small animal sector, we desperately need more space to accommodate the demand for new clients and daily case load we are experiencing on a consistent basis.  As much as I would love to have waved a magic wand to make it all happen overnight, that is not possible.

For the past eight months, I have been working towards this goal.  The first four months were spent working with a contractor to layout a plan to renovate and expand the building so we can expand our capacity to see more patients.  We were finally able to get most of the details worked out to take the plans and estimates of cost to the bank.  Once it was in the hands of the bank, we were faced with countless hoops, last minute requests and many more headaches than I care to list.  I despise working with banks, by the way.  No matter how much you try to be proactive and have everything they say they need, they always come up with ten more things they didn’t tell you about and they need them at the last minute or else they cannot proceed and it just further holds up the process.  The bank portion of this project has taken longer than the contractor portion.  We are finally scheduled to close on the loan this Wednesday.  I am definitely ready to be getting started on the actual construction and see results.  Then it will be back in the contractors hands.

The building phase of this project is exciting but it too will bring headaches.  With construction comes noise, dust, messes and inconveniences that go along with having to work in the clinic at the same time as the contractor.  I cannot simply close the clinic for the 3-4 months it is going to take to complete the project.  We will have to listen to the hammers, drills, saws, sanders, and workers that are going to invade our home.  The contractor seems to understand the pitfalls and concerns with working in our hospital and tells me that he is going to tread “softly” wherever possible and some really difficult portions can be done at night, but there is no way around all of the inconveniences.  We will adapt and do everything we can to keep things flowing as smoothly as possible.  We will not stop seeing our patients and we will not stop seeing our emergencies.

Just to outline our expansion plans for all those interested….

Phase 1:

We plan to add two additional exam rooms in the current aisle-way on the west end of the building where the current “living room” space is located.  The exterior of the new rooms will match the wood paneling that currently exists in the aisle.  The garage door on that end will be closed off and make way for a new expansion that will be added on to that end of the building.  Additional grading will be done to add more parking spaces for clients out front and move the staff parking spaces westward about 17 ft to accommodate the new expansion while retaining the ability to drive trailers all the way around the building.

Phase 2:

The new west wing will add a new isolation room, a double surgery suite, and additional kennel space that includes 4 concrete large dog runs for our bigger canine patients to have more space and not have to utilize the large animal pig/goat/horse stalls.  This west wing expansion will also include a small addition to the upstairs that will allow for a bunk room for the doctors staying overnight with hospitalized patients and work stations for doctors to make client call-backs and work on medical records during office hours so they have a quiet place to talk with clients on the phone.

Phase 3:

The old surgery room will be transformed into an exam room (making five total exam rooms).  The previous isolation room will become the practice managers office with access to the new lobby directly from her office.  Yes, you read that right, a new lobby.  Our lobby is way too small.  We plan to knock out the wall between lobby and reception then knock out the front wall and push out into the parking another 16 feet and Eastward about 16 feet.  This should more than quadruple the lobby space we currently have.  A new reception desk configuration and special media monitors will help keep clients informed and organized during their visit.  This will also allow for more receptionists to field calls and interact with clients to speed up the process of making appointments and getting in and out of those appointments.  We know no one likes to be waiting at the doctors office, especially with a sick child (even one covered with fur).   The lobby expansion is going to push my stress level to the max.  We are going to have to temporarily relocate the lobby to large animal.  That is the only entrance that would work.  We will have less space and it will not be as quiet.  My IT guy (Tommy-my husband) tells me it can be done.  We will have the computers and printers out there to use and hopefully the contractor will get that last phase done super fast so we can move into our grand new space.  I’m going to need a lot of Tums and ibuprofen I’m afraid.

Now in reality, Phase 1 and Phase 2 are going to happen somewhat simultaneously, but they must be completed before we can start phase 3.  My contractor thinks he can move quickly, if he can ever get moving.  Not his fault, but still frustrating.  Did I mention I really hate banks.

A few pictures

Here are a few pictures showing the new design. These are the current elevation drawings we’re working with now. This might change, but we hope the changes are over at this point and we can just focus on building.

new front elevation

This is the front elevation. Notice something new? The entire new front portion you see will be customer lobby! It’s going to be huge compared to what we have now.

This is the right-side elevation, the way the clinic will look if you’re viewing it from the Mt. Pleasant side. The new stairs will wrap up to a nice deck overlooking the property.