UGA sees new long-awaited veterinary teaching hospital materialize
Construction is underway for the University of Georgia’s (UGA) new veterinary teaching hospital, and with a boost in private donations the state’s Board of Regents recently upped the budget $16.4 million to restore the campus to its original plans. Materializing in the next two years will be a roughly 300,000-square-foot, five-building campus created from a budget of $97.7 million.
“A new hospital will allow us to continue to provide exceptional care for our very robust clinical caseload in a facility that is much larger and state-of-the-art,” says UGA College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Sheila W. Allen DVM, MS. “A new facility will allow our exceptional faculty, staff and students to work and learn in a much better environment to be efficient and productive.”
Plans for the facility have been in the works for nearly 15 years, since the need was first proposed to UGA administration in 1998. Now, having overcome state budget restrictions that altered the project, the budget is restored with $65 million from the state of Georgia and the rest covered by private funds. The new campus will include large and small animal teaching hospitals, a large animal ambulatory services building, an equine arena for lameness evaluation and pre-purchase exams and a classroom building for third-year students.
The current veterinary teaching hospital, built in 1979, is a fraction of the size of the new facility. Half the college will move to the new campus, including all third- and fourth-year students and clinical faculty and staff. Allen says first- and second-year students, basic science faculty and administrators will stay in their current buildings. “The vacated hospital space will be repurposed for first- and second-year student instruction and research,” Allen says.
More room will also allow for expanded class sizes and possible enrollment increases. “Any increases will be done in a carefully considered, incremental manner so that the quality of the educational experience stays exceptional,” Allen says. “We will add faculty and staff when we occupy the new facility and in response to any enrollment increases. We have a long-term plan for additional positions to support operation of the new facility and instruction.”
For now, Allen is excited that soon faculty, staff and students will finally be able to enjoy a brand new, state-of-the-art facility. “The equine arena will be a much safer and better place for equine evaluation,” she says. “Ambulatory services will have their own building to work out of. Our large animal isolation facility will be in a standalone building, which will be much better for biosecurity. We will have open pasture available for recuperating large animal patients. Client access for large animal and small animal patients will be much easier. Diagnostic imaging will be greatly expanded.”
The current teaching hospital serves more than 18,000 patients per year in one of the smallest teaching hospitals in the United States.