Nation’s No. 1 Veterinary School to Open New ER/ICU

UC Davis Veterinary Hospital Expands as School Celebrates 75 Years

Veterinary student Melissa Hernandez ’23 and Assistant Professor Kate Farrell, ASSISTAH examine a Chihuahua-mix breed in the veterinary hospital's emergency room. The new ER/ICU will open May 3. (School of Veterinary Medicine)
Veterinary student Melissa Hernandez ’23, left, and Assistant Professor Kate Farrell examine a Chihuahua-mix breed in the veterinary hospital's emergency room. The new ER/ICU will open May 3. (School of Veterinary Medicine)

Veterinary appointments have been a challenge to obtain in the past two years, with long wait times even in emergency situations, as the industry struggles to keep up with demand. To combat this issue, the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine’s teaching hospital has expanded its clinical space, including the opening of a new emergency room and intensive care unit on Wednesday, May 3.

Admittances to the ER have more than doubled since immediately before the pandemic. Historically, the ER caseload has increased tenfold since 2013, seeing an average of more than 900 cases per month in 2022, with some months seeing more than 1,200 patients.

The veterinary school, recently ranked No. 1 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report for a third straight four-year period, is celebrating its 75th year. It remains committed to growing the profession through an improved campus to train future veterinarians and meet the needs of animals needing emergency and complex care.

The new ER/ICU occupies the old space and incorporates adjacent space, for a total of approximately 1,600 square feet, nearly double the 900 square feet of the old ER/ICU, according to Mark Stetter, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine. While the level of emergency care has improved over the decades, the physical space of the ER/ICU has remained the same since the building opened in 1970. With the expanded space, the new facility will optimize patient care and increase student training opportunities.

Addressing needs of patients and profession

The expansion will also make way for more training opportunities for visiting veterinarians wanting to learn about emergency medicine and residents training to become critical care specialists. The number of ER/ICU residents will expand from seven to eight over the next year.

“Our ER’s caseload has increased tremendously since the pandemic,” said Stetter. “This new space and expanded care teams will better allow us to meet our patients’ needs, as well as the profession’s need for more specialists. We’ll be able to see that all animals are treated in a timely and compassionate manner.”

Interior rendering of the new ER/ICU of the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. The gray and blue model shows a V-shaped interior with architectural detail. The new ER/ICU will open on May 3, 2023. (UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine)
Rendering of the new ER/ICU opening May 3 at the School of Veterinary Medicine’s teaching hospital.

A $2.1 million gift from an anonymous donor supported the expansion. It is part of the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Center campaign to transform the current teaching hospital into the foremost veterinary facility in the world. The ER/ICU is one of two projects that will bookend the school’s anniversary year. The All Species Imaging Center is also projected to be complete as the school wraps up its 75th anniversary celebration in 2024.  

In addition to the new ER/ICU and imaging center, UC Davis is also creating the Dentistry, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Center, as well as the outpatient Center for Advanced Veterinary Surgery to diminish wait times of nonemergent orthopedic surgeries.

Other Veterinary Medical Center endeavors include the already completed Feline Treatment and Housing Suite, and Cardiology Service suite. Still to come are the Equine Performance and Rehabilitation Center, the Livestock and Field Service Center and an entirely new Small Animal Hospital, all of which will develop later in the decade.

Celebrating 75 years

The opening of the new ER/ICU kicks off the school’s 75th anniversary celebrations, which run from April 2023 through May 2024. Later this week, the school will hold its Alumni Reunion Weekend (April 28-30) and include celebrations throughout the year, culminating with a gala event in April 2024.

And as the school celebrates its 75th anniversary year, it is launching the largest fundraising campaign in its history, with a goal of $75 million by the end of the 2023-24 academic year.

“It’s my great honor to lead the veterinary school during such a vibrant, celebratory era,” Stetter said. “I look forward to the expansion of our first-class veterinary instruction, research, and clinical care, as we continue to position UC Davis at the top of veterinary education.”  

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