March 24, 2011By Tim Simard Observer staff
Starting in mid-April, Champlain Valley pet owners will have a new veterinary referral facility to take their pets in need of specialized medicine.
Peak Veterinary Referral Center is set to open on April 11 and will become Vermont’s largest multi-specialist practice. With veterinarians specializing in radiology, cardiology and oncology, to name a few, Peak Veterinary doctors believe the new referral center will draw pet owners from around Vermont and northern New York.
Creating a new referral space and combining many forms of specialized veterinary medicine will be a necessary resource for the state and the Champlain Valley.
“We’ve found the owners of animals here are the most dedicated we’ve ever seen,” said Dr. Lynn Walker, a radiologist and one of four partners in the veterinary enterprise.
Located off Hurricane Lane in the building once occupied by Fletcher Allen Health Care’s spine institute in Williston, Peak Veterinary is still under construction as workers completely renovate the former medical center. But even as builders installed doors, layed down flooring and painted walls, the design of the referral center was already becoming clear. A wide-open reception area leads into a large examination room, with adjoining surgery and studies spaces. The center’s expansive kennel for overnight stays, and a small room for owners to visit their pets during extended treatments, is also under construction.
Within the 14,000 square-foot center, about 10,000 square feet are being renovated in this first phase of construction. Walker said the center will have some of the best and newest equipment in the field of veterinary medicine. The center also includes a state-of-the art air purification system to avoid the smell sometimes common at animal practices.
Along with Walker, three other veterinarians have partnered in the new facility: Dr. Mark Saunders, a radiologist; Dr. Kurt Schulz, a surgeon; and Dr. Marielle Goossens, an internist. Each worked at the Burlington Emergency & Veterinary Specialists facility on Commerce Avenue before moving on to this new venture. Walker said the partners, who all leased their services through the 24-hour emergency practice, wanted to start their own center and hire veterinarians in a wide-range of specialties.
“As specialists, we thought it was best to be all in one place,” Walker said.
Along with the four owners, there are seven other specialized veterinarians on staff, including experts in physical therapy, behavior, and ophthalmology. These experts will soon offer services including chemotherapy, spinal surgery and arthroscopy.
Since the center is for referrals only, there won’t be primary practice veterinarians on site. For example, if a pet owner’s regular vet finds cancer in a dog or cat, he or she will likely refer the case to Peak Veterinary, explained Schulz. Since all the specialists will be under one roof, the doctors can confer together on the case and give the best possible diagnosis and treatment, he added.
“We have separate specialties, but we all work together in this building,” Schulz said.
Goossens added: “We’re a group of people that really get along exceedingly well.”
With April 11 fast approaching, the veterinarians look forward to seeing the referral center in action. Clients are also anxious for opening day, Walker said.
“This will be biggest of its kind in Vermont and the Champlain Valley,” Walker said. “I think there might be some buzz out there.”