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March 2002

The following article courtesy of Veterinary Economics and may not be reproduced without permission.


Cover Story, Part 2, Page 1

Before and After:

Making Room to move

By Sarah A. Moser, Associate Editor

Dr. James William Poage added nearly 800 square feet to the reception area of Valley Animal Hospital in Roanoke, Va.  The addition gives team members and clients room to move--and boosts employee morale.

Design experts say it takes careful planning to complete a successful remodeling project.   But in most cases they don't mean 10 years of planning.  Still, Dr. James William Poage, owner of  Valley  Animal  Hospital  in Roanoke, Va., says spending nearly a decade  plotting  the  addition  and remodeling  of  his  practice  was well worth the time.  "I wouldn't change a thing now," he says.

And  the  2002  Hospital  Design Competition  judges  agreed  with  Dr. Poage that his hospital makeover turned out well.  In fact, so well they awarded his practice the  One-Room  Makeover Award,  praising  his  tasteful  product display,  jungle  skylight,  and  client refreshment center.

Dr. Poage  worked  in  the  practice, originally a laundromat, as an associate for 12 years before buying the practice from Dr. Ralph Ayers, in 1992. "When  I bought the hospital, I said I'd add on and remodel in 2000," says Dr. Poage.  "The  smaller  facility worked  great when  it was  just  Dr. Ayers and me, but as  the  practice  grew,  we  were stumbling over ourselves, especially in the 325-square-foot reception area."

So  in  1997  Dr.  Poage  started drawing  new floor plans, and in 1999 he gave  the  plans  to an architect to make  formal  designs.  "For years I'd been mentally knocking out walls and rearranging  things  in  my  mind,"  he says.  "It was time to get something on paper."

Twenty years worth of history with the same bank--where the president, vice president, and customer service representatives were all Dr. Poage's clients--made  financing  the  project simple.  "All  I  had  to  do  to  secure financing was fill out a  few courtesy applications," he says.

Cover Story, Part 2, Page 2


Cover Story, Part 2, Page 3

keeping things clean now," he says.  "And they're more excited to take pet owners and potential  clients  on  tours.   Before,  you almost had to turn sideways to get through certain areas.  Now there's room to move, and our team members and clients love it."

Upon completion of the renovation, Dr. Poage hired two practice hostesses--retired women who greet clients, give tours, hold dogs while clients write checks, water the plants,  dust  the  front  areas,  and  help clients to their cars.  "They do a great job keeping clients happy and maintaining the reception area," he says.

A new refreshment center  adds  to  the client-friendly atmosphere, featuring coffee, cider, pastries, and dog treats. The station also includes three computers that allow clients to view the practice's Web  site (www.valleyanimalhospital.com), educational pet-related CD-ROMs and other Web sites.

Although 10 years may be a long time to plan a renovation project, Dr. Poage still   asserts   that   planning   is   key.  "Visualize your perfect building, and set a dollar amount that you're willing and able to spend," he says.  "Then  try  to balance that perfect building with what you can afford.  I was extremely pleased that I didn't have to back away from my vision, and it came in under the budget I'd set for the project."±

For more information on veterinary hospital design, log onto HospitalDesign.net

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