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July 26, 2021

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NVA Compassion-First pet hospital taking shape in east Vancouver

ER, specialty center from going in to former Whole Foods

By , Columbian business reporter
Published:
5 Photos
Doug Hoffman, left, NVA Compassion-First vice president of facilities and infrastructure, stands in the "command center" of the future intensive care unit at the Pacific Northwest Pet ER & Specialty Center, which is currently under construction in Vancouver, while members of the hospital's leadership team stand on the future ICU floor.
Doug Hoffman, left, NVA Compassion-First vice president of facilities and infrastructure, stands in the "command center" of the future intensive care unit at the Pacific Northwest Pet ER & Specialty Center, which is currently under construction in Vancouver, while members of the hospital's leadership team stand on the future ICU floor. (Photos by Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Veterinary care provider NVA Compassion-First plans to open a large emergency and specialty care veterinary hospital in Vancouver this summer.

The future Pacific Northwest Pet ER & Specialty Center is under construction at 815 S.E. 160th Ave, taking over the space that until two years ago housed a Whole Food Market. NVA Compassion-First is aiming for a July opening, according to Doug Hoffman, the company’s vice president of facilities and infrastructure.

The hospital will offer 24-hour emergency care and a wide variety of specialty services including cardiology, oncology and surgery, as well as an array of imaging options including ultrasounds, CT scans and MRIs.

“Pretty much anything they can do on the human side, we can do on the veterinary side,” Hoffman said.

Range of services

NVA Compassion-First operates more than 80 veterinary specialty and emergency hospitals across North America, according to a press release from the company, including in Seattle, Spokane and Medford, Ore. The Vancouver location will be the company’s first specialty hospital in the Portland area.

Lorentz Bruun Construction is handling the initial build-out, which began at the start of the year and is focused on 19,000 square feet of the building’s 30,000-square-foot total.

Hoffman said plans have already been drawn up for an expansion in the remaining 11,000 square feet that will add more capacity and additional specialty services, such as interventional radiology. The company wants to get the initial hospital open and established first, he said, but he expects the expansion to happen “sooner than later.”

The hospital will operate with a staff of about 35 to 40 people on duty during the day, he said, dropping to about 15 for emergency care on nights and weekends. The facility will likely be able to handle about 50 to 60 pets at a time initially, he said, likely equating to about 1,200 to 1,500 cases per month.

The facility will primarily treat dogs and cats, although one of the hospital’s department heads also specializes in “exotics” — a catchall term for most other types of pets such as rodents, reptiles and birds.

Hospital layout

Walking through the still-under-construction building on Wednesday afternoon, Hoffman gave an overview of the emerging hospital floor plan.

The former grocery store main entrance will open into a spacious lobby with high ceilings and large rear windows intended to bring natural light into the intensive care unit behind the lobby.

An alcove on the left side will become a special waiting area for cats, while a hallway to the right leads to a series of exam rooms. The facility’s underwater treadmill room, for dogs who need hydrotherapy, is located just off the lobby for increased visibility.

The hospital is laid out in a “hub-and-spoke” design with the ICU at the center, Hoffman said. A curved main desk “command center” will give doctors a full view of all the patients in the ICU at once, including those in kennels or isolation rooms along the surrounding walls.

The prep room and three surgical suites branch off from a hallway behind the ICU, and the back half of the building will have additional rooms for specialty services like endoscopy, internal medicine, ultrasound, cardiology and oncology, including a room for chemotherapy treatment.

The CT scan and MRI machines will be at the very back of the building, located in specialized rooms with copper RF shielding and leaded drywall, according to the press release.

Choosing Vancouver

Because of the specialized nature of the hospital’s services, Hoffman said he expects it to serve a wide geographic footprint. Some of the company’s other facilities see patients that live hours away, he said.

Hoffman said the company chose Vancouver based on a perceived need for specialist veterinary care in the region, although he noted that demand for veterinary services has increased nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic following a surge in pet adoptions.

NVA Compassion-First’s own caseload has increased by 30 to 40 percent across its network, he said, and the higher demand has persisted even as the pandemic has continued for more than a year.

The hospital is intended to complement existing veterinary care facilities rather than directly competing, Hoffman said. It won’t offer routine services like vaccinations or wellness checkups, and will hopefully serve as a referral destination for pets who need specialized care that regular vet clinics aren’t equipped to provide.

“Building the relationships with the family veterinarians is the key to a practice like ours doing well,” he said.

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