California’s new veterinary hospital halfway to $500m goal

Artist rendering of the future Equine Performance Center at UC Davis.
Artist rendering of the future Equine Performance Center at UC Davis.

A decade-long campaign to raise more $US500 million to build a new veterinary hospital is part of an ambitious $2 billion fundraising goal by the University of California, Davis.

Davis’s School of Veterinary Medicine is taking a lead role in the new campaign, titled “Expect Greater: From UC Davis, For the World.” It is the largest philanthropic endeavor in the university’s history, and the new veterinary hospital, which will set “the gold standard of care while defining advanced clinical research and education” makes up 25% of the goal.

Since the campaign’s quiet phase began in July 2016, the university’s closest donors and friends have given $1.2 billion toward the goal, with more than $250 million of that raised by the veterinary school. Now UC Davis is reaching out to the entire university community and beyond.

The school’s existing Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital opened in 1970 and was built to see 3000 patients per year. While there have been additions to the facility over the years — increasing the square footage by about 60% — the hospital’s caseload has increased more than 1600% to more than 50,000 cases per year.

“This caseload increase is stretching our personnel and resources to an extreme extent,” said Dr Karl Jandrey, a critical care specialist in the hospital’s emergency room. He is also associate dean of admissions and student programs. “Our large and diverse caseload provides a tremendous learning environment for our students and house officers, but we have to ensure those opportunities are not jeopardized by the limited footprint in which we train them,” Jandrey said.

The multi-phased Veterinary Medical Center campaign commenced over the past two years with several Phase I renovation projects in the hospital — including six new examination rooms, a feline-only suite, laundry and support facilities, locker rooms, and restrooms — and the construction of a new Large Animal Support Facility.

In 2021, the school looks to continue Phase I with commencing construction of the All Species Imaging Center, where the world’s largest veterinary radiology team will diagnose patients, and train students and residents with the most advanced imaging technologies in medicine – including CTs, MRIs, and PET scanners.

The Veterinary Medical Center campaign will then focus on transforming the Large Animal Clinic into three distinct treatment areas – the Livestock and Field Services Center, the Equine Surgery and Critical Care Center, and the Equine Performance Center.

Plans for an entirely updated Small Animal Hospital will be the final phase of the decade-long project, coming in the late 2020s and more than doubling the size of the current clinical space for small animals.

The “Expect Greater” campaign will harness the power of philanthropy to propel the school — already the #1 ranked veterinary school in the world — into a level of veterinary care, research, and advancement that meets the challenges of an increasing caseload; that allows for the adoption of the latest technology in veterinary medicine; and that provides the infrastructure and efficient services to facilitate translational research and breakthroughs.

The school is at the forefront of serving California’s animals, especially in times of great need.

With the state in turmoil caused by raging wildfires and a global pandemic outbreak, the hospital has remained open to serve animal owners. In just the past two months alone, the school’s Veterinary Emergency Response Team has treated thousands of animals at evacuation centers and performed search and rescue missions in the fire zones, while the hospital has treated dozens of some of the most critically burned animals. Additionally, the school recently created the Wildlife Disaster Network to care for wildlife affected by wildfires and other disasters.

Beyond the creation of the Veterinary Medical Center, fundraising efforts will also focus on supporting students financially. UC Davis is already a leader in scholarship support, helping to make it the veterinary school with the third-least median debt for its graduates.

The school is also stepping up efforts to create endowed chairs and professorships, which enable the school to recruit and retain the world’s top minds in veterinary medicine.

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