UPenn's New Bolton Center Opens Equine Critical-Care Facility

Top-notch care, increased capacity for colic cases, and state-of-the-art biosecurity to control the spread of infectious disease were the driving forces behind the construction of the 18,540-square-foot James M. Moran Jr. Critical Care Center at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center (NBC) in Kennett Square.

Although the new 24-stall facility had yet to be stocked and the first equine patients won't be admitted until June 14, donors, media, NBC staffers, government dignitaries, and other VIPs--including U.S. Olympic gold medalist and Thoroughbred racehorse trainer Michael Matz--toured the building and attended a reception June 4 following speeches and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Wielding the scissors was Betty (Mrs. J. Maxwell) Moran, mother of the late James M. Moran Jr., for whom the center is named. James Moran was active in Thoroughbred racing and breeding in Pennsylvania and served on the NBC's Board of Overseers for 18 years.

Fundraising and construction for the center took six years, according to Raymond Sweeney, VMD, chief, Section of Medicine, Department of Clinical Studies, at NBC. Although Sweeney declined to draw comparisons between the Moran Center and similar facilities at other large-animal hospitals, NBC's incorporates the most advanced design features and biosecurity measures available today, he said.

Approximately 14 veterinary schools and hospitals--NBC included--have been forced to close temporarily over the past several years as a result of disease outbreaks, Sweeney said. To help guard against the spread of salmonella and other contagious diseases, the Moran Center is designed so that horses enter stalls from outside entrances, not through central aisles. Veterinarians and other caregivers enter the building via don/doff rooms, in which they change their clothing and slip into rubber clogs.

Ten of the stalls are isolation stalls for disease or suspected disease cases. Before entering, a caregiver will put on disposable plastic garments and shoe coverings. He or she then will pass through a small adjacent room that serves as a buffer zone between the hallway and the horse.

Isolation-stall walls are fitted with small tubes through which fluid lines can pass, further minimizing caregivers' need for direct contact with sick horses. Four of the isolation stalls are mare-foal stalls, with sturdy, removable partitions to keep moms and babies from becoming entangled in each other's IV lines, should they be needed. Each stall is individually ventilated and is fitted with Plexiglas windows for observation and horse safety. Staffers can monitor horses via webcams at the two nurses' stations.

Colicky horses also will be housed at the Moran Center because, as Sweeney explained, "Around 10% of colic cases will start to shed salmonella or will pick it up." Of the 14 colic stalls, two are oversized mare-foal stalls. The colic stalls and the isolation stalls are in separate wings of the building to further minimize the spread of disease.



About the Author

Jennifer O. Bryant

Jennifer O. Bryant is editor-at-large of the U.S. Dressage Federation's magazine, USDF Connection. An independent writer and editor, Bryant contributes to many equestrian publications, has edited numerous books, and authored Olympic Equestrian, published by Eclipse Press and available at www.exclusivelyequine.com or by calling 800/582-5604. More information about Jennifer can be found on her site, www.jenniferbryant.net.

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