Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota Expands Facility and Services
SAINT PAUL, MN Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota (AERC) recently completed a 17,000-square-foot expansion of their Oakdale facility. The team at AERC made the decision to expand the hospital in response to a rise in demand for specialty services and treatment options for pets such as pain management, cancer care, dentistry, dermatology, emergency medicine and critical care. The renovated Oakdale center is now home to ten specialties, with room to add more.
The company is the only locally owned emergency and multi-specialty hospital in Minnesota, and the only referral center in the state to employ specialists who have all earned board-certification. When AERC opened its original Oakdale location in 2000 it offered only emergency services on nights, weekends, and holidays. In 2009 AERC constructed a new clinic, adding a criticalist (specialist in emergency medicine) and as the demand for specialists increased over the years, internal medicine, surgery, rehabilitation, cardiology, dentistry and oral surgery, dermatology, radiology and neurology were also added. The current expansion offers space not just for staff and patients, but also for specialized medical equipment of considerable size.
AERC selected MRI and CT scan equipment from the human medical field as opposed to veterinary as these provide increased power and better image quality. The installation of this delicate equipment meant special attention to detail had to be paid to the space needed and the architectural design. The MRI machine weighs approximately 3,000 pounds and had to be lifted via crane. After it was in place, the last wall of the MRI room was raised into position. Due to the MRI's magnetic pull, no surrounding components could contain any metal. The MRI also will not tolerate a disruption like shaking or rattling well, so it could not be housed on an outside wall. The CT machine also had a special requirement; due to the radiation emission the surrounding area necessitated lead shielding.
In addition to the specialty equipment, the clinic has three sterile surgery suites, one of which boasts sterility levels akin to surgical suites in human hospitals. "There is a real need for these specialists, and having a clinic that can function and house specialty equipment and adapt to the changing medical needs is such a large piece of that," says AERC Hospital Director, Dr. Reynhout. The hospital design was completed by Krech, O'Brien, Mueller & Associates. The firm also served as architect for AERC's Oakdale and St. Paul locations and has extensive experience in the veterinary industry.