GAINESVILLE — In an effort to support the owners of equine athletes and other animals visiting Ocala’s new world-class World Equestrian Center, the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine has embarked on a strategic alliance with the center to provide leading-edge patient care in a new 40,000-square-foot hospital facility located on center grounds.
The new facility will be known as the UF Veterinary Hospital at WEC. Construction of the hospital is currently underway, with the opening estimated to take place next spring.
“We are thrilled to be able to support the World Equestrian Center and its many animal-owning visitors by providing access to the broad array of expertise in diagnostic and patient care offered by UF veterinary specialists working across a variety of disciplines,” said the college’s dean, Dana Zimmel, D.V.M.
Equine services available at the new facility will focus on sports medicine, diagnostic imaging, rehabilitation and after-hours urgent care. Small animals will be able to receive urgent care and primary care, with a goal of expanding specialty services for both horses and small animals.
“Animals in need of veterinary care while at the center will be able to efficiently obtain the best possible care at onsite hospital facilities designed to accommodate a variety of patient needs,” Zimmel said, adding that UF veterinarians serving the new facility will work closely with local veterinarians as needed to ensure optimal collaboration and continuity of care.
Roby Roberts, the center’s CEO, said, “This new collaboration represents a win-win for WEC Ocala, for our exhibitors and guests, for the community and most of all for the animals who will have access to state-of-the-art technology and unparalleled customer service along with the breadth and depth of expertise UF provides.”
Although the focus of the new hospital is patient care, knowledge gained by working with equine performance horses may lead to advanced studies that result in improved clinical outcomes for all horses, Zimmel said.
Although UF veterinary students will not initially be performing clinical rotations at the new facility, Zimmel said she envisions this will happen in time. “We recognize what a great experience exposure to the UF Veterinary Hospital at WEC would be for students, particularly those who are equine-oriented,” she said.
UF veterinarians will serve both the equine component and the small animal arm of the operation, and hiring will commence this fall for additional veterinarians and support staff.