VCA Northpointe Animal Hospital in Yuba City, CA serves as the only 24-hour veterinary emergency hospital in the area and, like so many emergency practices in recent years, had outgrown its existing space after more than four decades in business. More exam rooms and dog runs were needed to accommodate this growth, and the hospital’s staff wanted to see workflow improve significantly as well as an expansion of parking areas. Essentially, owner Dr. Steve Sanders desired a building that was functional above all else. For this reason, Northpointe’s new free-standing 9,400 SF facility was designed to prioritize a strategic floor plan layout and high-quality finishes and features.
An initial design consideration for Northpointe concerned the operational logistics of the dual general and emergency practices. Behind the reception area are four workstations that enable the management of front desk duties and the observation of exam rooms, a retail space, and other private access areas. A dual-functioning office with access to and from inpatient areas serves as emergency care reception at night because bulletproof glass and electric door-strike hardware ensure after-hours safety.
Eight exam rooms are distributed across opposite sides of the hospital in order for some to close overnight while others are utilized for after-hours emergencies. One of these exam rooms also services specialty consultations. In this room that fills with comfortable natural light, a wall-mounted exam table can fold away to create a less clinical appearance, and grieving clients are able to leave the room directly into a private courtyard upon exiting.
Competent workflow is critical to the success of veterinary emergency practice. At this 12-doctor facility, the use of glass throughout the building eliminates traditional barriers to efficiency and provides for effective staff oversight in monitoring patients and in working with each other. A signature rfa design feature, the “doctors’ fishbowl” affords a 360-degree view that at Northpointe includes treatment, isolation, ICU, surgery, and pharmacy. The lab and pharmacy are even linked to this centralized office through a sliding window backsplash. When opened, the window facilitates communication between functions; when closed, the users of both areas can always see the work occurring in the other room.
Another salient consideration at Northpointe concerns biophilic design, that which emulates the natural environment. This approach, especially in a clinical setting, is proven to have both functional advantages and, moreover, a positive impact on users’ well-being. At Northpointe, biophilic design is primarily achieved through natural lighting and open space. A few examples include:
Finally, as in all rfa veterinary facility design, special attention is paid to the systems and finishes that promote a healthy, safe hospital environment for animal patients and human users alike. In the centralized treatment area, each wet table station is equipped with its own wall-mounted anesthetic gas machine. Negative pressure laminar airflow and 100-percent exhaust help to prevent contamination outside isolation, separated from treatment via a lockable vestibule. The double-table surgical area is supplied with oxygen and gas scavenger distribution systems, and ultraviolet light and HEPA filters in the air units as well as positive pressure laminar airflow also help to prevent contamination. In boarding areas, trenchless kennels, epoxy floors, and glass doors facilitate easy daily cleaning. Attractive fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) in bathing areas protects against the collection of moisture at a low cost. Employing design measures such as these not only control against the spread of infection and disease but also reduce operating and maintenance costs over time.
Completed in 2017, Northpointe exhibits fabulous curb appeal. At its exterior, on-site vehicular and pedestrian traffic patterns were carefully addressed for discretionary control and monitoring purposes. The hospital is outfitted with 45 parking spots that, alongside vernacular landscaping, adhere to State of California biofiltration measures. Three exercise yards of pet-friendly artificial turf are granted secure and convenient access to and from canine wards.
Ultimately, VCA Northpointe Animal Hospital’s efficient, effective, and engaging design, its biophilic considerations, and its high-quality specialized systems and features led to the facility winning “Hospital of the Year” in the 2018 dvm360 Hospital Design Competition.
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