Building Design for Animals

Article by Becky Gasser - Director of Design

Designing for Emergency Cases

Curtail stressors, increase staff productivity, and enable smoother transitions from the client's car to treatment spaces using these design concepts.

Emergency veterinary cases are highly tense situations. If the layout of your hospital is insufficient for these hectic scenarios, it can create a very stressful environment for everyone involved. However, by incorporating these few simple design concepts, you can help mitigate these stressors and increase efficiency and productivity for emergency cases:

Clear signage

Upon entering your site, clients should be able to spot and read clear signage that directs them where they need to go. The signage should be well lit and bright in both daytime and nighttime settings. It should be easy to read with large letters and clear, concise messages and it should be highly visible and clear of obstructions so that clients don’t miss it.

Designate drop-off spaces

Drop-off spaces can be as simple as 1 or 2 designated parking stalls near the entrance, or they can be as extensive as a porte cochere covered drive-through right by the front door where clients can temporarily park while they bring their pet inside.

Emergency greeter stations

If possible, a larger than normal entry vestibules can be incorporated to allow greeters to be stationed just inside the first set of entry doors. These greeters will often have a small kiosk or desk that they can sit or stand at in between drop-offs, and large windows surrounding them to clearly see as clients pull up. There is also a space for a gurney to be parked nearby that greeters can quickly grab when they need to run out and help a client with their pet.

Direct paths to medical spaces

The path from the front door to the treatment area should be straight and direct. There should be minimal corners and turns to navigate, as well as minimal doors to open and close and the width of the hallway should be wide enough to allow for a gurney and 2 people on either side to easily pass through.

Triage exam rooms

These rooms give the doctor a private space to evaluate the severity of the situation, provide immediate medical treatment if needed to stabilize a patient, and discuss options with the client for how to move forward.

Triage exam rooms generally need more cabinetry than standard exam. They also typically have a gurney or rolling table as the exam surface instead of a fixed or folding exam table to allow for mobility, and there is often more open floor space for emergency-type equipment such as crash carts. Some veterinarians also choose to incorporate medical gases into triage exam spaces such as oxygen.

Small considerations with big impact

Obviously, getting an animal from a client’s car to a medical space is just the beginning of emergency veterinary care, but it’s arguably one of the most important steps to ensure successful treatment and satisfied clientele. If you can ease the stress of those first few moments in emergency cases, you can set the tone for the entire emergency experience.

Becky’s original article was published in the dvm360 Magazine. Read it here on the dvm360 website.