At last the sad and empty block where the Wingham Hotel (the “bottom pub”) stood before being destroyed in a fire, is to come to life again. Wingham and Valley Vets are building new premises there. (The current building will be let to another business.)
The design of the roofline, with verandah-style awnings coming out over the footpath are a nod to the design of the old pub. The large equine hospital stables will be a barn-style building with hardwood timber poles (sourced locally from Machins), similar in appearance to the old pub stables. (Whose wonderful heritage Cobb & Co stables singed slightly in the fire were unnecessarily pulled down under council’s orders.)
They have chosen a traditional design, as they liked the verandah out over the footpath, the traditional gabled roofline and the use of Wingham Lincoln brickworks heritage bricks so that the hospital would fit in with the Brush School and Wingham Post Office. The inspiration for the building is most definitely the old pub so they purposefully selected local heritage style brick insisting insisted that no substitute brick would be acceptable (partly for aesthetics, partly from a wish to support the local brickworks).
There will be two main buildings – a purpose-built small animal hospital 500m2 and an equine stable complex for the hospitalisation of horses and livestock.
The small animal hospital will be ‘cat-friendly’ accredited which means the cats and dogs are housed separately so cats are not unduly stressed by being exposed to dogs. There will be a separate waiting area for cats away from dogs with cat carrier storage that is private and off the floor, a separate dedicated cat-only hospital ward and treatment room where noise is kept to a minimum, ‘cat condos’ for housing hospitalised cats (these are very spacious, with elevated rest areas, separate space for a litter tray and spots to hide – all essential for feline comfort);and two dedicated cat consulting rooms so there are no sounds and smells of dogs.
For the dogs there will be 6 very large runs with plumbed oxygen available (useful for tick or cardiac patients – to keep them on intranasal oxygen throughout their hospitalisation) and ICU runs with camera monitoring. The dog kennels will have glass doors which help with visibility for the staff and also make the runs more homely and more sound-proof than traditional steel cage doors. That will help reduce the anxiety for hospitalised patients so there will be less barking and they will be more comfortable during their stay.
One of the consult rooms will be a dedicated ophthalmology room, where Zac, who has a strong interest in eye medicine, will conduct his eye consults (you need a very dark room and specialised eye equipment to perform eye examinations properly so they have prioritised this.)
The canine reproduction side of the practice has been growing significantly and so there is a dedicated canine reproduction room that will be used for procedures and houses endoscopy equipment and storage tanks. They will offer a more advanced repro service with transcervical insemination using an endoscope, which supercedes some of the old fashioned and now no longer recommended methods of dog breeding.
There’s a studio apartment for accommodation for Veterinary students – as it is a practice vet students tend to choose from multiple universities. With vet science being such a feminised profession, they’ve thoughtfully provided a dedicated breastfeeding/expressing room to help support employees who are mothers and to make things easier and more comfortable for them as they return to work.
There are two surgical theatres that are constructed to an ASAVA Hospital of Excellence standard (the aim is to have the premises accredited). This will provide local access to more specialist surgical procedures to save owners travelling to Newcastle or Sydney. The surgical theatres have been designed by a veterinary architect plus a specialist surgeon had input into the features so they are suitable for advanced orthopaedics which require absolute sterility and so it is essential that the surgical theatres are constructed and maintained to a very high standard.
The equine hospital will have three stables and a foal box to enable the hospitalisation of sick horses and livestock overnight. Two of the stables open out to a horse exercise yard so horses that are in hospital for longer stays (i.e. cycling mares for breeding) have outdoor access and are happier. There will be an on-site horse crush to enable equine reproduction scans and equine dentals. One of the vets, Claire, recently completed an advanced course in Equine Dentistry and so can provide a facility for the local area. Off the stables is a large undercover area for our behaviour staff to conduct puppy classes comfortably and safely.
We employ 9 vets, 16 nurses/receptionists and 3 behavioural trainers.
Regarding landscaping there will be a mixture of native hedges (Lilly Pilly) and mixed border flowering plants and native grasses, as well as some ornamental feature trees. Alissa loves gardening and wants the garden to be as leafy and ornamental as possible to avoid the ‘commercial low maintenance mass planting’ look that seems the norm for most developments these days.
Regarding the old premises, the intention is to lease it to another local business.
They have a high quality small animal ultrasound machine, and Michael has undertaken significant further training in abdominal ultrasound to offer an in-house ultrasound service. Zac has also commenced further study in ultrasound so they’re aiming to have two highly trained sonographers in the practice. It has been fantastic for our diagnostic capabilities to improve the standard of treatment.
Cardiac scans are referred as this requires a more specialised probe and additional training. The new building also has a dedicated ultrasonography room, a dedicated digital radiography room and a significant upgrade to the Xray equipment in the past year so it is comparable with that you would find in a specialist hospital.
Behaviour is a huge part of the practice and the new premises has been designed with fear-free principles in mind to focus on canine and feline behaviour. Hannah is currently undertaking an advanced year-long course in animal behaviour.
The backbone of the practice is a strong positive and supportive culture that emphasises continuing education – so all of the Vets are currently undertaking courses in a variety of subjects (currently – internal medicine, orthopaedic surgery, emergency Medicine, equine dentistry, small animal behaviour and small animal ultrasonography.) Seems their motto is -‘when you know better, you do better’!
They plan to open in September this year.