RANCHO SANTA FE — It took eight years, but the opening of the new Helen Woodward Animal Center Companion Animal Hospital was a dream come true.“I never visualized that it would be this beautiful,” said Michael Arms, president and CEO of the Helen Woodward Animal Center. “When it was done, I looked at it and said ‘Did we really build this?’”
The 10,000-square-foot hospital gave the public a sneek peek Feb. 25.
Approximately 100 community members had the opportunity to see behind the scenes of the facility, which has the capability of holding and treating about 50 animals at once. It has state-of-the-art equipment and was funded entirely by the community including a major anonymous donor who wished to dedicate the facility to St. Francis of Assisi, Patron Saint of Animals.
It has nine exam rooms, a dental ward, surgery rooms with observation windows so students can watch, isolation areas for infectious cases, a natural healing center and a comfort and grief area for those whose beloved pet has passed.
In the future, it is hoped the facility can provide 24-hour emergency care service.
“I can’t help from thinking how many lives we can save because of this hospital,” Arms said.
Taking over the helm as chief of staff is Dr. Patricia Carter, who will search for veterinarians who specialize specific areas such as surgery, oncology, orthopedics, dentistry, ultrasound and general medicine who will be independent contractors.
She said this hospital will serve as a model for others with the new way it will be run. The organization will pay employees, perform all administrative operations and purchase supplies, so the vets won’t be bogged down with running an office.
“It leaves them free to do what they do best, treating animals,” she said.
She said the hospital will generate funds for the center, which helps orphaned animals find homes and provides education about animals the community.
“This for-profit side will help fund the nonprofit side,” she said.
Carter is a graduate of U.C. Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 1990. She was inducted into the Phi Zeta Society, an honor given to those in the top 10 percent of their class. She has been a veterinarian for more than 20 years.
Eileen Beattie will be the hospital’s administrator. She has a background in finance and will be in charge of the purse strings, keeping track of finances. She has always had a love for animals and calls it “a dream job” because it will free vets from having the headaches of managing an office.
“This gives them a change to practice medicine or maybe the opportunity to open a practice,” she said.
At the open house as the guests, some who brought their pets, began to line up for the tour, Arms was still walking on air.
“Thank you to the community for caring enough to help us build this wonderful facility,” Arms said.