A veterinarian office that was destroyed by fire earlier this year will soon welcome four-legged patients to a new facility.
Randy Esbeck, veterinarian and owner of Sawnee Animal Clinic on Canton Highway, and his staff held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new, more modern structure last week.
The new clinic is scheduled to be ready for patients early next month, with grand reopening events planned Dec. 4-6.
Esbeck said that while the Jan. 12 fire was at first seemed like a nightmare, he has since learned to think of it as a “blessing in disguise.”
“I remember sitting down there and watching the flames in the roof and thinking, ‘This is just a bad dream,’ and then realizing that no, it’s not a bad dream,” he said.
“It took a few days for the shock to wear off and then we started realizing that this was an opportunity … to make it better and do it right.”
The former clinic space was a converted split-level house. However, the new facility was designed by Southeast Design Inc. and built on the same site.
Architect Mark Claar said the group specializes in veterinarian facilities, having handled more than 125 of them across the Southeast.
Claar and general contractor David Springer of Red Letter Construction Inc., which built the new clinic, are both Esbeck’s clients.
“When we found out about what had happened, we tried to jump in and act quick because when you’re down like that, the panic sets in about your revenue and what’s going on with your business,” Claar said. “So we just turned it around as quick as possible.”
After working about 10 months out of a temporary trailer set up on the property, the new 3,080-square-foot clinic is being prepared for patients.
Esbeck said the old hospital that burned was slightly larger, at 4,000 square feet, but the new facility makes better use of its space.
“We basically lost some storage, but everything has been resized now so it’s a lot more efficient and the flow’s a lot better,” Esbeck said. “We got rid of a lot of wasted space.”
Some of the features of the new facility include a larger lobby area to make patient check-in and check-out easier, a pharmacy and lab area, as well as a separate area for surgeries and dental procedures.
It also includes a larger boarding area for dogs and cats, and additional dog runs with glass doors and specialized ventilation and drainage systems for easy cleaning.
The entire facility also features new epoxy flooring, which is seamless for easy cleaning and textured to prevent slips even when wet.
There are also lockers and a kitchenette area for staff and a centralized office space for Esbeck.
“The really nice thing is, due to the layout, when you’re standing in one spot, you can pretty much see 80 percent of the hospital,” Esbeck said.
Esbeck, who has been a practicing vet since the mid-1980s and opened Sawnee Animal Clinic in 1996, said he’s learned a lot about his community since the fire.
“You go through that and you really see the good in people,” he said. “Even that first week, we had offers of, you know, ‘If you need to, you can come down and use my office, my equipment, my staff, whatever you need’ and that meant a lot. All the other vets were very, very helpful.
“We definitely learned a lot about our clients too. We’ve got some great clients who backed us a lot. Everybody came together and everything’s going to get there.”