On the Same Page
UF's New Small Animal Hospital
November 23, 2010
On Oct. 22, the University of Florida's new Small Animal Hospital at the College of
Veterinary Medicine was officially dedicated at a memorable Grand Opening Ceremony
in the spacious atrium of this beautiful facility. Thanks to a vision that was nurtured over
a number of years by many college leaders and supporters, the Small Animal Hospital
is a world-class facility that can make us all proud.
We are privileged to be among a special group of health science centers to have a
college of veterinary medicine on our campus. Only two other universities Ohio State
and Minnesota have all six Health Science Center colleges, including veterinary
medicine, on the same campus. Human medicine has much to learn from veterinary
medicine, and vice versa. If you have the chance to visit and tour the Small Animal
Hospital, you will likely be surprised to learn how closely human and animal medicine
correspond in their diagnostic and treatment methods and technologies.
It's not only technology that is shared by our human and animal health colleges. During
the strategic planning process for UF&Shands, leadership from the College of
Veterinary Medicine fully subscribed to the view that, collectively at UF&Shands, our
patients and our community are at the core of all we do. They adapted our academic
health center core values pinwheel to reflect the addition of "client" and "referring
veterinarian" to the "patient" at the center of everything we do.
Although some clients bring their animals to the veterinary hospital directly without
referral, about two-thirds of the current annual caseload of 16,000 patients are referred
from the local community, from elsewhere in Florida and beyond. Clients and referring
veterinarians have select UF as the best choice for their animals, even though there are
many options for specialty care elsewhere, because of the college's commitment to
deliver exceptional patient care and an exceptional client experience on each and every
visit. When we do this, says Dean Glen Hoffsis, every other objective, such as great
teaching and research, falls into place. He adds that "all of the UF Veterinary Hospitals'
leaders, including Drs. Dana Zimmel, Colin Burrows and John Harvey, are of the same
mind when it comes to bringing our culture in alignment with the pinwheel." Of course,
the ability of the veterinary medicine faculty and staff to achieve this goal is greatly
facilitated by the opening of the new Small Animal Hospital.
The new UF Small Animal Hospital at the College of Veterinary Medicine opened for
business Nov. 1. Although "small" is in its name, this building is by no means a small
addition. This is a $58 million, 100,000-square-foot full-service hospital that rivals the
best in human medicine. It is a beautiful building, with a three-story atrium serving as
the reception area for animal patients. This spectacular facility features numerous
innovative designs, such as rounds rooms adjacent to every specialty service. Specialty
service areas are fully equipped and loaded with cutting-edge technology. A stereotactic
linear accelerator, complete with cone-beam CT (image guidance) and a catheterization
lab are two major additions that define the new hospital as unique in the Southeast and
most of the country. The UF Small Animal Hospital has more specialists under one roof
than any veterinary hospital in Florida. (Incidentally, to serve our UF&Shands family, the
UF Veterinary Hospitals are offering a 10 percent discount for all services to all
employees of the University of Florida or Shands. In addition, the UF Veterinary
Hospitals now also offer 24/7 emergency services staffed with two emergency/critical
You may wonder: How did this incredible project become a reality? The UF CVM is a
young college. Its first class graduated in 1981. The current Small Animal Hospital was
one of the college's first facilities, and it was undersized almost from the start, according
to Dr. Kirk Gelatt, an emeritus dean of the college and distinguished professor of
veterinary ophthalmology. Another former dean of the college, Dr. Richard Dierks, who
served as dean in the early 1990s, came from Colorado to attend the Oct. 22 Grand
Opening Ceremony. He stated that the vision for constructing the new hospital began
during his term, so it has been a priority for about 20 years! A serious fundraising
campaign began during the leadership of former Dean Joe DiPietro (1997-2006), who
has just been named the new president of the University of Tennessee, and has
continued since then. In total, approximately $10 million in private support was raised
for the building and was critical in obtaining a sufficiently high priority to garner UF
support for funding by the state of Florida so that the hospital could be completed.
Several added factors accounted for the project's success and the ability to procure all
of the needed designs and equipment. College personnel were well-organized and
worked closely with the architects Zeidler Partnership, Inc and FWAJDB to be sure that
all of the innovative ideas were translated into design. This close working relationship
translated to tight and highly efficient project management between college and UF
personnel, architects and construction managers. Dean Hoffsis explained that a
combination of factors including a favorable bidding environment and preservation of
contingency funds allowed for the financing of a 160-seat auditorium. The project
also provided sufficient funds to take down the arena on the west side of Shealy Drive
and to add green landscapes and paved parking lots. This creates an improved working
environment and adds to the overall quality of the veterinary campus.
During the building dedication, Dean Hoffsis stated, "this is the finest veterinary hospital
in the world." He now recounts that his quote reverberated around the international
community, and was challenged. He consulted with the project's architects, who have
seen all of the world's best veterinary hospitals, and built most of them. On the basis of
their assessment, Dr. Hoffsis stands by his statement.
In his dedication remarks, Dr. Hoffsis reminded the audience that there is truly just "one
health," since animals and people develop many of the same diseases, and infectious
diseases of man often originate from, or circulate within, our wild and domesticated
animal populations. The interchanges between human and animal doctors and
scientists interested in the same disease often provide insights that help both humans
and animals. In this spirit, there are numerous opportunities for collaboration between
faculty in the UF Veterinary Hospitals and colleagues in the other colleges of the Health
Science Center. Already well-established are collaborations in orthopedics, oncology,
imaging and cardiology.
The University of Florida and its Health Science Center are fortunate to have Florida's
only college of veterinary medicine. It is nationally recognized for its excellence in
veterinary education, research and clinical care, and it is implementing a strategic plan
that promises to advance its missions rapidly in the years ahead. The new Small Animal
Hospital is an essential element of this plan. Please pay a visit you will be amazed!
David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D.