Materials Used In Building Or Renovating A Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH) Must Be Both Flexibile And Durable For Facility Longevity

Durability and flexibility are key components of any healthcare project. That includes veterinary teaching hospitals where the materials used for walls, flooring, surface protection and the like have to be durable enough last a long time and withstand the constant cleaning necessary to prevent the spread of disease and contaminants. However, materials must allow for the flexibility to modify rooms as patients’ needs evolve.

It is a delicate balance that requires careful thought and planning.

For instance, many VTHs use concrete block construction in animal holding areas because of its durability. However, that type of wall construction is not as suitable for other areas such as waiting, exam or staff rooms where the ability to update or completely change out an area is mandatory for the VTH to deliver quality care over the life of the facility. Therefore, selecting more flexible materials such as conventional framing, impact resistant gypsum and specialty wall finishes for use in non-holding areas are much more appropriate options.

The most forward-thinking veterinary teaching hospital designs incorporate standard treatment rooms that can serve multiple purposes and be adapted to meet the potential expansion of services and care as required. One of our recent projects offers an excellent example. The design included an additional large animal ultrasound room with specialty shielding even though shielding is not required for ultrasound equipment. The facility staff knew that the use of the ultrasound room would be as originally intended, but also wanted to provide flexibility down the road so the room could accommodate new technologies like a Standing CT or other innovations without massive renovations or throughput impacts.

Of course just because flexibility is vital, durability cannot be ignored when working on a veterinary teaching hospital. Of particular concern are the flooring, base, wall finishes, and cabinetry. All must be capable of withstanding frequent cleaning and sanitizing, sometimes with the harshest of chemicals. It is important to evaluate not only the transitions between wall protection, flooring, and floor drains but also the transition between rooms where differing materials can cause problems regarding overall cleanliness and sanitation. Fortunately, there are many modern materials that provide extra safety for caregivers and patients as in the case of non-slip flooring.

While the concepts of flexibility and durability may seem at odds, in a veterinary teaching hospital, they go hand-in-hand when considering which construction materials to use that will help the facility withstand the test of time.