Dr. Mary Kirk's new animal hospital in Penn Hill will serve two purposes. It provides more room for the existing practice and it will provide a long term location for a small animal veterinary practice in the Southern End.
In April, she moved her practice of 19 years from the basement of an historic home on Pilottown Rd. to the former bank in Penn Hill, just north of the village of Wakefield.
"A number of years ago, I began looking for a place to have a new office," she said. Dr. Kirk first purchased a log yard at the intersection of Pilottown Rd. and Robert Fulton Highway, intending to put up a new building.
Then the former branch bank building became available and she bought that instead.
"It's in a perfect location," she said of the new office at the intersection of Rt. 272 and Rt. 222 north.
The office was built in the mid-1970s by the former Farmers' First Bank as its only branch. It was run by Susquehanna Bank after it took over Farmers' and was then sold to NBRS Financial, the successor to National Bank of Rising Sun. When Maryland state regulators closed it and turned the assets over to Howard Bank, that Maryland bank continued to operate the office for 18 months. Howard Bank closed the office in June, 2016.
Dr. Kirk bought the building two months later. Planning took about six months, and construction began in early 2018.
Barry Risk handled the renovation and the expansion.
The building had 2,200 square feet of floor space. That was renovated and an additional 2,000 square feet was added to the structure.
While the office no longer resembles a bank, one major feature remains.
Dr. Kirk had the building remodeled, the night deposit box removed, and an addition put on to the rear of the building.
"We kept the vault. We use it for storage, and we took the door off so we wouldn't accidentally lock it," she said.
The new office gives the practice nearly twice the room of its former location.
"We have a much larger waiting room, so people aren't crowded together. We have four exam rooms. We're using three of them now, and that makes us more efficient, because patients can go in there and get set up so we don't have to wait," she said. "And if people are waiting for the results of blood work, they can stay in the room with their pets rather than have to go back out to the waiting room."
The x-ray machine has it's own room, as does the surgery. The lab has a dedicated area. There's also a space for laser therapy, and a break room for the staff.
That's also the home for the practice's two office cats.
There are two separated kennel areas, one for dogs and the other for cats.
The office was ready for use last October.
"We could have moved in then, but we needed the cages [for the new kennels] and they didn't come in until January. I didn't want to move during the winter, so we waited until April," she said.
The move took two days, April 17 and 18. The practice began seeing patients at the new location on Friday afternoon, April 19.
"We did take a couple of emergencies from existing clients during the move," Dr. Kirk said. "We had to find a company to move the x-ray machine and that took them all day."
The office hours, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and from 7:30 a.m. to noon on Thursdays and Saturdays, will stay the same.
"And our fees haven't changed either," she said.
For right now, Dr. Kirk will not be adding to the staff. "It will be a year or so before we think about getting another veterinarian," she said.
While the practice is fully functional, some items still have to be moved.
"All of the art on the walls is still down there," she said. "We just haven't had time to move it yet."
The new office is also more visible. That has brought in new clients, Dr. Kirk said.
Raised on a farm in Fulton Township, Dr. Kirk said she has always loved animals. After high school, she took a two-year program to become a veterinary technician and then went to work for Dr. Frank Abel at Willow Run.
"I had thought about going to college to become a veterinarian but didn't think that could happen. Dr. Abel encouraged me and I went," she said.
After graduating, she worked for Dr. Carl Troop before opening her own practice in 2000.
It is the only small animal veterinary practice in the Southern End.
"Another veterinarian wouldn't want to be in the basement. I want to make sure there's a small animal practice in the Southern End when I decide to retire, and this office will be attractive for a veterinarian. That's another reason why we moved," Dr. Kirk said last week.