CSU Receives Gift to Build New Equine Hospital

An artist’s rendering illustrates plans for CSU’s new Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Family Equine Hospital, to encompass 180,000 square feet at a projected total cost of $47 million.

Photo: Courtesy of the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

A $10 million gift from the Helen K. and Arthur E. Johnson Foundation is launching plans at Colorado State University (CSU) to build a state-of-the-art equine hospital that will be designed to enhance the university’s ability to teach veterinary students, promote discoveries in equine medicine, and provide specialty veterinary care for horses.

“We deeply appreciate this generous gift from the Johnson Foundation and greatly value its leadership in supporting health and education across Colorado,” CSU President Tony Frank, DVM, PhD, said in a statement from CSU. “The foundation has been a dedicated supporter of university programs for more than 20 years, and this gift will provide a monumental step forward for equine veterinary medicine at Colorado State.”

The $10 million gift is the lead contribution in establishing the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Family Equine Hospital. The facilities will total 180,000 square feet at a projected total cost of $47 million.

“Our family foundation’s partnership with Colorado State University goes back more than 20 years, and we have long valued the institution’s national leadership in veterinary research, treatment, and education,” Lynn Campion, chairman of the board of trustees for the Helen K. and Arthur E. Johnson Foundation, said in a CSU statement based in Denver. “We’re honored to help further CSU’s admirable mission by supporting construction of this new equine hospital that will deliver cutting-edge equine research and treatment.”

Campion, granddaughter of the organization’s founders, trains and rides Western performance horses and has authored two books: Rodeo: Behind the Scenes at America’s Most Exciting Sport and Training and Showing the Cutting Horse.

Inside the New Hospital’s Plans

“It’s been a team effort between the Veterinary Teaching Hospital and the Equine Orthopaedic Research Center to really make this happen,” said Chris Kawcak, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, ACVSMR, professor of orthopaedics, director of Equine Clinical Services, and Iron Rose Ranch Chair in Equine Musculoskeletal Disease and Injury.

Dr. Christopher Kawcak is director of CSU Equine Services and is leading the effort to develop a vision for the university’s new equine hospital.

Photo: Courtesy of the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

While the facility will contain all the features of a standard hospital—such as surgical suites; an indoor lameness examination area; and advanced diagnostic imaging, including a high-resolution computed tomography scanner and a 3-Tesla MRI scanner—it will also feature some unique aspects, he said, such as a sports medicine and rehabilitation facility.

“That will include a swimming pool, an underwater treadmill, and various other modalities to build on our rehabilitation assets,” Kawcak said. “It will be the first unique facility for rehabilitation, and I think that will help set a precedence, much like we already have with the research we do—it’ll really set the standard for rehabilitation.”

He also said the facility will feature a medicine and critical care ward, as well as a state-of-the-art eight-stall isolation facility.

“This area relies on us significantly in times of disease outbreaks,” he explained. “For instance, when there was a herpes outbreak a few years ago, we were one of only a few facilities that would actually take those cases. So we put a lot of effort into critical care and isolation because that’s something that’s not standard in hospitals in this region.”

The new facility will also benefit veterinary students, who rotate through all the areas of equine service during their junior and senior years, Kawcak said.

“We identified that our old hospital is not optimized operationally,” he explained. “What we’ve done with the new facility is to try to optimize operations. The students will be in an area that’s more conducive to learning. There will be more labs, rounds rooms, and educational opportunities. If you want to demonstrate a procedure, (there will be) areas focused solely on teaching. So it kind of keeps us from stepping on each other like we are right now.”

Kawcak also said CSU veterinarians will continue to conduct clinical research in the new hospital and work closely with the university’s Equine Orthopaedic Research Center and other researchers on projects.

“I think what I’m most excited about right now is that we will really improve our operations and our quality of service to the client,” Kawcak said. “This really allows us to enhance our operations and the way we do business and how we take care of horses. Not that we’re not doing that now, but it really starts to help our faculty and students really blossom—really do the things they want to do that they’re somewhat limited in right now. For me, that’s the most important thing—that our faculty are really allowed to really maximize their capabilities.”

The Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Family Equine Hospital, on which construction will begin once the remaining funds are raised, will join the Institute for Biologic Translational Therapies as highlights at Colorado State’s expanding South Medical Campus. The primary facilities already established on the South Medical Campus are the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital; the Robert H. and Mary G. Flint Animal Cancer Center; the Gail Holmes Equine Orthopaedic Research Center; and the Diagnostic Medicine Center, which houses the CSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories.

About the Author

Erica Larson, News Editor

Erica Larson, news editor, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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