EQUINE NEWS

Sod Turning Signals Start of New Project, Era at OVCMarch 2008

The University of Guelph held a sod-turning ceremony, February 29, 2008, to mark both the start of a major new construction project and a new era at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC).

A state-of-the art large-animal isolation unit will be constructed in the southwest corner of the OVC complex that will set a new standard in patient housing and infection control for horses. It will be the first major "bricks and mortar" component in a series of initiatives that will anchor the OVC Health Sciences Centre — a bold new vision for the college that will transform its Teaching Hospital and shape the future of the profession.

"The OVC Health Sciences Centre embodies the increasing relevance of veterinary medicine to society and the importance of OVC and the University to the province and country," said president Alastair Summerlee.

As OVC approaches its 150th anniversary in 2012, the OVC Health Sciences Centre will focus the college’s efforts on several key initiatives, including a new educational centre in primary health care and animal welfare, an animal cancer care centre, an equine performance and reproduction centre, and other improvements to the OVC Teaching Hospital that will facilitate continued deliver of leading-edge medical, surgical and diagnostic imaging services.

Construction of the large-animal isolation unit is funded through infrastructure grants from the federal and provincial governments, with additional support from the University. It’s part of a package that also supports construction of a new four-storey building to house the Department of Pathobiology and the Animal Health Laboratory. Completion of that project, which gets under way this spring and is scheduled to finish in 2010, will clear the way for a major expansion of the OVC Teaching Hospital.

“Many clients already see our OVC Teaching Hospital as a kind of ‘Mayo Clinic’ or ‘Hamilton Health Sciences’ for animals,” said OVC dean Elizabeth Stone. “The creation of the OVC Health Sciences Centre captures what we do and what we want to do in health-care education, research and service delivery. It is very exciting to be celebrating the start of this long-awaited project. The new isolation unit will be a model in equine patient housing and infection control. Along with our other planned enhancements, it will allow us to continue to provide our clients with excellence in veterinary health care."

When completed late in the fall of 2008, the $5.6-million isolation unit will enable OVC's equine specialists to stream patients much more effectively. It will enhance their ability to completely separate potentially infectious patients from non-infectious patients, especially horses that are being admitted for elective medical/surgical evaluations or other procedures. Animals showing signs of infectious disease will immediately be directed to the isolation unit.

“Whether our team is treating a competitive racehorse or a child’s pony, it is vital to accommodate all patients in appropriate housing,” said Don Trout, head of the OVC Large Animal Clinic. “We have a unique concentration of expertise at the OVC. The new isolation unit will provide clients with yet another reason to feel confident in our ability to provide innovative horse health services in Canada’s equine heartland.”

The 9,000-square-foot facility will include 12 completely separated stalls, video monitoring from a nursing station, several multi-purpose/treatment rooms and state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment. Each stall will have dual access with interior and exterior doors, which will improve the efficiency and working conditions for staff and clinicians.