SPC Shawn England, NCOIC of the Veterinary Treatment Facility, clutches Mylow, a 2-year-old Alaskan Malamute, during an examination July 7.

FORT BENNING, Ga. - Renovations began in May at the Veterinary Treatment Facility, which could lead to a minor decrease in services and some last-minute closures during the next several months.

Dr. Deborah Langford, a veterinarian and officer in charge of the clinic, said the staff will try to limit any interruptions, but the overhaul should result in better work flow, more examination rooms and less waiting time for clients, pets and their owners.

"We are trying to expand our services, offering more surgeries and more advanced diagnostics and treatment options to both military working dogs and privately owned animals," she said. "This renovation is long overdue, and should really be a great benefit to Fort Benning."

Work should wrap up by mid-December, Langford said.

The Army's Medical Command is funding the $3 million project, said Chris Flowers, Martin Army Community Hospital's facility manager. Although veterinary services are not a direct function, MEDCOM is responsible for the facilities and buildings of vet clinics across the Army.

Building 265 on Main Post, which houses the Veterinary Treatment Facility, was constructed in the 1930s. It's undergone some renovations but nothing major in the past two decades. Today, the clinic features only three exam rooms and a small surgery area.

Langford said the improvements and infrastructure upgrades will be significant.

"The new surgical suite will be state of the art, and the clinic will have two more exam rooms than we currently have, and a much better layout," she said.

The facility has equipment to perform endoscopy, laparoscopic surgery, ultrasounds, radiology and other procedures - but not enough space to do it in, she said. Following the renovations, the clinic also hopes to earn certification by the American Animal Hospital Association.

Due to the construction, the Veterinary Treatment Facility is running one less exam room because it currently provides the only access to the pharmacy and lab. Langford said that's creating a backlog of routine vaccination appointments. Typically, the staff can see clients within a week of calling, but they're now getting booked two to three weeks out.

Surgical services have been cut back to once a week instead of twice. In addition, the clinic's X-ray machine was put in storage and won't be reinstalled for several weeks, possibly until the end of Phase I construction in August.

"When Phase I is complete and we are transitioning to Phase II, we will have to close the clinic for at least three or four days in order to move all of our equipment, supplies and records to the other building," Langford said. "Likewise, when Phase II is complete, we will have to close for about a week to move back in to the new clinic."

She said intermittent issues also could surface with the facility's computer network and power, which may cause appointment problems.


VET CLINIC RENOVATION

The entire first floor of Building 265, which consists of the veterinary clinic itself, is being gutted and completely redone. The $3 million renovation will be done in two phases:

PHASE I: Started May 10 and should be finished by Aug. 20. Building 266 (the smaller building behind current clinic) being renovated to make it useable as a temporary vet clinic. Part of first floor in Building 265 will be turned into a large surgical suite.

PHASE II: Start date is Aug. 24, with completion projected for Dec. 17. The remaining two-thirds of Building 265 will be overhauled. Features to include five exam rooms, a military working dog exam room, pharmacy, lab, and larger reception and waiting area.

* The Veterinary Treatment Facility is at 6417 10th Mountain Division Road on Main Post
* Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays
* For more information, call 706-545-4444

Page last updated Fri July 16th, 2010 at 12:20