Caring gets an expansion

Edward Cooper
Clinical associate professor, College of Veterinary Medicine

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New ICU modernizes a vet med center staple, and Dr. Edward Cooper said it couldn’t come soon enough for his furry patients.

As head of service for Small Animal Emergency and Critical Care at The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center (VMC), I spend quite a bit of time in the intensive care unit.

Fortunately, the ICU in the  Hospital for Companion Animals was first on the list of renovations to be completed for the VMC’s Enhancement and Expansion project, which will add a total of 57,000 square feet to the hospital.

The old ICU (in use since 1978) was a clustered whirlwind of patients, students, veterinarians and technicians all trying to function in a space too small for its purpose. Upgraded critical care capabilities along with an increased caseload had caused us to far outgrow the room’s functional capacity. With kennels stacked on top of each other in close quarters, gaining access to patients would require either waiting for someone to be finished or just diving into the chaos.

In addition, the old space included a partial wall that would block patients from view, and its small capacity created the need to house larger animals in runs outside the ICU and those with infectious diseases in another location across the hall. These circumstances required the use of a closed-circuit monitoring system in order for us to keep an eye on them.

Now, we are in a beautiful new space that’s three times larger than the old ICU. It includes a centralized workstation that allows veterinary staff much better visibility and access to patients. From the middle of the room we basically have a 360-degree view of all patients. This set-up is comparable to a neonatal intensive care unit in a human hospital, with the goal of allowing us to achieve a similar level of monitoring and effectiveness of care. There also are two isolation rooms with glass windows connected to the ICU, allowing direct line of sight and largely removing the need for a closed-circuit monitoring system.

When we bring clients to the new ICU to visit their animals, they are awestruck at what we’ve created for their pets. Another extremely beneficial aspect of our new space is the creation of a client visitation room directly beside the ICU. This gives families a perfect space to visit their pet and its close proximity allows us to maintain accessibility to the patient.

Before the construction began, the critical care faculty was included in discussions with hospital administrators, contractors and architects on aspects of the design and layout. We got to offer a lot of input as to how we would like the space to be organized to address the challenges of the old ICU and to optimize our ability to provide the highest level of care.

I’ve been at The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center for 11 years, and nearly all of that time was spent in the former ICU. The sense of relief and pride that I feel in what we’ve accomplished here is pretty extraordinary.

I’m also excited to see the next phase of the renovation project. While the old ICU was crowded, many other areas of the Hospital for Companion Animals will definitely benefit from expansion and modernization. For example, the next phase of construction includes an expanded lobby and waiting area for our clients and patients. We are grateful that so many clients trust us with their pets. In 2014, more than 27,000 animal patient visits passed through our very small lobby. Sometimes the lobby is completely full with standing room only for our clients, so this will make their visits much more comfortable.

The next phase of renovation will be improved surgery and specialty suites. These improvements will provide appropriate space for the advanced medical technologies that we have available to improve the health of animals at all phases of their lives. This is critically necessary to keep pace with the changes in medicine that have occurred since the building opened in 1974.

Our generous donors are making this renovation possible. The necessary work is being completed all thanks to private donations. In fact, since last autumn, we have been running a special campaign to raise awareness about the importance of the project and ask for additional contributions. The “Commitment to Care” campaign features some of our patients “telling” their stories. You can see short videos on our special webpage at

About the author

Edward Cooper
Edward Cooper -
Clinical associate professor, College of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Edward Cooper is a clinical associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences and head of service for the Small Animal and Emergency and Critical Care Unit at Ohio State’s Veterinary Medical Center.


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