- May 14, 2020
When Dr. Wendy Ellis established the Veterinary Medical Center at Lakewood Ranch, she had been hoping to start a general practice.
However, the demand for emergency care in the area led her to follow a different course.
Despite the presence of five animal hospitals in Sarasota and Bradenton, she said there remains a shortage of veterinary care in still growing East County.
Based on her years of experience, she said it was easy for her to discern the need by looking at wait times.
With her experience in emergency veterinarian care, she was ready to step back into that practice again, with the clinic changing to an emergency center in November 2021.
That was just the beginning.
The 11,790-square-foot expansion of the Veterinary Medical Center is targeted for a late 2023 opening. She said the building is currently in the final stage of permitting.
The expansion will be attached to the current practice, which will become an emergency and specialty center and will allow the clinic to provide cardiology, internal medicine, surgery, oncology, ophthalmology, and other services.
She said the new building will contain 13 exam rooms and multiple surgical suites. Also included will be a large, pet-friendly elevator for travel between the building’s two floors.
Ellis said she hopes the additions will be able to fulfill the need in the area.
She said while services are needed in Lakewood Ranch, she also noted a lack of service providers in the Myakka City area. The veterinary center, with its location on the eastern side of Lakewood Ranch, becomes an easy drive for Myakka City residents.
The toughest part of the expansion, she said, will be staffing.
Ellis said the services will become an important supplement to what is already available in the region since many of the services they offer can’t be found at the other emergency centers.
She said she was excited to offer ophthalmology, which she called a “big specialty” in emergency or in veterinary medicine.
If a pet needs eye surgery, an ophthalmologist will usually be the preferred specialist, she said.
Her center will feature hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which will involve a small chamber offering high-pressure oxygen.
She said pets generally do very well with this type of treatment, which is extremely helpful for smoke inhalations, severe wounds, or severe swelling, and will speed recovery significantly. Her staff, she said, knows the machines “inside and out.”
The hospital will offer what she said is the area’s only CAT scan available for use on an emergency basis, and would be available nights and weekends. If an animal hit by a car comes in, for instance, doctors will be able to use it to determine what injuries exist.
She said after the practice was established in that area, due to the accessibility of her site and the presence of Bayside Pet Resort just beside it, she saw a quick reaction from the public. She expects similar attention once the center is complete.
“People are glad to have us here,” she said.