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MSU critical care unit serves veterinary needs
By Laura Whelan
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Recent renovations of the internal medicine and critical care unit will improve animal care and student training at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.
The Joe Ann Ward Internal Medicine and Critical Care Unit was made possible by a $1.5 million endowment from Joe Ann Ward of Jackson in memory of her husband, Dr. Hugh G. Ward, founder of Briarwood Animal Hospital and Millcreek Animal Clinic. Staff moved into the unit at the end of March while the finishing touches were still being added.
"The new facility is so much more efficient," said animal health technician Lisa Chrestman. "Instead of having to run out to other areas to pick up supplies, each examination area is self-contained and self-sufficient. We will save time and energy that we can apply toward our patients."
Chrestman and ICU technician, Jennifer Artigues, helped design the layout and decor of the critical care unit, which will be used for small animal treatment, including dogs, cats and, occasionally, exotic animals.
"One great advantage for our patients is that increased space means increased occupancy," Chrestman said. The staff estimate they will be able to treat three times as many animals as they could in the old facility.
Dr. Andrew Mackin, associate professor of small animal internal medicine and Dr. Hugh G. Ward Chair in Small Animal Veterinary Medicine, is responsible for the unit's personnel. He said that the renovations will reinforce the high level of service and treatment provided in the critical care unit.
"These renovations improve the quality of the care we provide, the quality of contact between staff and animals and the quality of life for the staff and students who work with these animals," Mackin said.
The improved critical care unit consists of three main components: an internal medicine section used mainly for noncritical routine work, a special procedures section for more complicated procedures, and the intensive care unit.
The old internal medicine area held only three examining tables and one large station, while the new unit houses three large stations, each containing a clinical table, bench space, cupboards, a wash area and various equipment.
Special features have increased the capabilities of the unit. Each station has its own oxygen outlets, so now more than one animal at a time can be put on oxygen, increasing anesthetic options. Each station is also outfitted with overhead surgical lights, fluid pumps and ventilator hook-ups.
Computer access in the ICU allows veterinary students to research cases, and there are more windows in the special procedures room for observation.
"The improvements definitely will provide a more advanced learning environment for veterinary students," Mackin said. "This is a teaching hospital and the additional space and observation areas make it more conducive to teaching and learning."
The Animal Health Clinic treats more than 6,000 individually owned pets every year. "This facility is never empty," Mackin explained. "We always have patients, so we
have at least two people in the unit at any given time. We have had more than a dozen patients in the ICU at one time, and now we will be able to handle many more."
The increased capacity for treatment has led to new positions within the department. In addition to recently adding the first faculty member in critical care, CVM soon will have its first residency in critical care as well as an intern on rotation.
"One of the main goals of the Ward donation was to secure CVM's place as the preferred small animal critical care center in the region, and these improvements are helping us achieve and maintain that," Mackin said.
Contact: Dr. Andrew Mackin, (662) 325-6631