Curt Boisfontaine found out too late that his beloved Rottweiler, Tutt, had cancer.
The heartbreaking ordeal gave him a crash-course into veterinary care in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that changed his career forever.
“Dallas has veterinary specialists, but they are scattered about,” Boisfontaine said. “There is no true specialty hospital in Dallas proper with all the specialists working together under one roof.”
The founder of Meridian Realty Advisors primarily builds assisted living and memory care facilities but now he has a new mission.
He’s partnered with Medvet to build a 24-hour animal hospital that will combine oncology, neurology, cardiology and other specialties under one roof.
The 38,000-square-foot facility will start construction this summer and is scheduled to open in the fall of 2018 at the northwest corner of Northaven Road and N. Central Expressway.
“We’re hoping to have better outcomes for patients so we can detect things early enough to save the pet,” Boisfontaine said.
General practice veterinarians will refer dogs and cats to Medvet for specialty care and surgeries. It will have four surgical suites and an intensive care unit. The hospital won’t be for vaccinations or other routine care.
“What we really pride ourselves on is collaborative care for your pet,” said Linda Lehmkuhl, chief medical officer and cardiologist for Medvet. “That’s what we think Dallas is missing. You have great veterinarians and great specialists but they’re not in truly collaborative environments.”
Meridian organized Texas Veterinary Specialty Hospital Investors LLC to develop and own the hospital. Columbus, Ohio-based Medvet will be the tenant under a long-term lease agreement. It will be designed by M+A Architects.
Meridian would also like to open a boarding facility adjacent to the hospital that could house animals long-term. They are looking for a company to operate the kennel.
What makes Medvet different
Medvet is relatively new to North Texas.
The veterinarian-owned company has acquired existing clinics in Richardson, Greenville Avenue in Dallas, Uptown Dallas and Grapevine in December.
The location on Greenville Avenue will close and the team at that facility will move to the 24-hour hospital when it opens in 2018.
The company hasn’t always had a collaborative mindset. It used to be siloed with multiple owners under one roof all trying to be the boss, Lehmkuhl said.
“It wasn’t an efficient model,” she said. “Once we took those hats off, it revolutionized our organization.”
Most of the veterinary industry still operates in the siloed manner.
“A lot of private equity money has come into the industry,” Lehmkuhl said. “Private equity makes it about the bottom line. What comes first is our purpose. We invest in our people and technology.”
Medvet now has 1,300 employees nationwide with about 90 employees at its four North Texas clinics. Lehmkuhl expects that to grow to 130 by next summer. And even more when the new 24-hour facility opens.
“We are definitely new in the market,” she said. But Lehmkuhl doesn’t like the word acquisition.
“We really prefer to think of ourselves as integrators,” she said. “Every time we grow, we get better.”