Pets in Line for Leading Medical Care


(Rendering | Courtesy of STEELE Associates Architects)

Bend’s Veterinary Referral Center to Create 26,000-Square-Foot State-of-the-Art Facility

Central Oregon’s first ever full veterinary hospital is on the horizon as construction work begins on a 26,000-square-foot state-of-the-art center in Bend set to serve patients across the Pacific Northwest.

In a move that will see treatment options that rival human medical facilities, the Veterinary Referral Center of Central Oregon (VRCCO) has broken ground on a spacious new location, off Brinson Boulevard on Bend’s east side, designed to meet the growing demand for advanced medical care for pets in the region.

Features of the medical facility — designed by Bend-based STEELE Associates Architects and to be built by general contractor Empire Construction & Development — include a bone and joint center, physical therapy (with aquatic underwater treadmill on site for hydrotherapy), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), fluoroscopic capabilities and computed tomography (CT).

With decades of devotion to the veterinary field, the founders have also focused on providing a unique experience for the staff and pet parents. For employees, they are forming “VetCadets Childcare,” which will be located within the building and provide subsidized childcare.

There will also be an eclectic food truck court and beer garden on the 2.5-acre site with a pavilion shelter for the “Fur Parents” and the neighborhood to enjoy year-round, as well as a tranquility garden.

Dr. Mauricio Dujowich, co-founder and CEO of VRCCO, says the unique elements of the new facility stem from the group’s guiding core values, which include “going beyond expectations and providing a personalized experience.”

He said, “Although nobody wants to be at the doctor’s, it does not mean we can’t do everything possible to make it a positive experience for pets, the pet parents and staff.

“In an age where service and customer experience seem to have taken a back seat, our innovative group is taking all the right steps in creating and bringing that back while raising the bar in the veterinary space.”

VRCCO features innovative emergency and specialty veterinarians committed to bringing the best veterinary care to Central Oregon and currently offers surgery (orthopedics, soft tissue and neurosurgery), internal medicine, dermatology and emergency services.

Dr. Dujowich added, “We are fortunate to be one of the few hospitals in the Pacific Northwest to grow our services, expand hours and hire more staff throughout the COVID pandemic.

“Since our start in 2018, our vision has always been centered on meeting the needs of our community. To that end, we now need more space, better diagnostic tools and additional services in order to continue to provide the highest care to our patients.

“To meet these needs, we are expanding our hospital to the East Side, in a brand-new state-of-the-art facility. At the same time, our current West Side location will continue offering emergency services.”

Priding itself on being locally owned and community-connected, VRCCO offers the most advanced veterinary services to the Central Oregon community with highly skilled veterinarians seeing patients with advanced or emergency medical conditions from a wide geographic area.

VRCCO is the only 24/7 emergency veterinary facility in Central Oregon in addition to having board-certified doctors in dermatology, internal medicine, medical oncology, surgery and ophthalmology.

Construction of the new building is anticipated in the fall of 2023, with features to include:

  • The first MRI dedicated for pets in Central Oregon;
  • A 64 Slice CT scanner;
  • Interventional Radiology Capabilities;
  • Bone & Joint Center;
  • Physical Therapy Center.

Services will include:

  • 24/7 Emergency Room
  • General Practice Veterinarian Clinic (14) Exam Rooms
  • Physical Therapy with Aquatic Underwater Treadmill for Hydrotherapy
  • Surgery Center with four Operating Rooms
  • Dermatology
  • Neurology
  • Oncology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Physical Therapy
  • Fluoroscopy
  • Endoscopy
  • Ultrasound
  • Xray
  • MRI
  • CT
  • Lab
  • Pharmacy

Other notable elements of the new building include a large convention/meeting room to host regional continuing education and training events, administration offices and even a ‘fireman pole’ for docs to slide down from the second floor into the E.R. in the event of an emergency.

Dr. Dujowich said, “We are building something that currently only large cities have. The Bend area has a significant population of pet owners who love their pets, as we all do, and we realized there is a bigger need than we originally thought. We have quickly outgrown our current space and want to further support the community and have room to grow.

“From being in the profession for some time and being fortunate to work in some of the best hospitals in the country, I have seen a lot of different facilities and observed what does and does not work. We have tried to combine research on all the best practices and features into the new project.

“When I got here, the norm was for owners to either choose not to get the care needed or have to go to Portland for advanced treatment.

“But there is a rising need in this area and one result of the COVID pandemic was that hospitals in larger cities became very busy, with potential long waiting lists, and we have even seen people driving from Portland to come to our facility.

VRCCO currently has 85 employees and Dr. Dujowich anticipates that number could end up being close to 140 staff members following completion of the new facility and including retaining the current westside presence for emergency services and more convenient access for pet owners on that side of town.

He added, “We are anticipating further growth in the range of specialist services offered as the community grows and further needs become evident.

“We tried to think of everything to best accommodate our patients and the outdoor amenities including the food truck court will be a welcome option for pet owners who may face a long day.

“We try to put ourselves in their shoes and see the benefit of having a place for them to eat and relax. We want people to look back and see their experience with us as a worthwhile journey and take whatever steps we can to make the process easier.

“Also, nothing can happen without our incredible staff. We acknowledge and appreciate them, and the childcare idea was spawned after seeing the challenges faced by workers in that area and out of a desire to take care of our staff.

“We are excited to see this project come together, it has been a great collaborative experience with STEELE Associates and Empire Construction, and we eagerly anticipate the building’s completion to meet a growing demand in Central Oregon and beyond.”

The flagship new building is to be constructed in an industrial flex contemporary style, featuring optimal flow for efficient delivery of services.

STEELE Associates President Scott Steele commented, “Our firm feels blessed to be able to design such an incredible facility that is dedicated to the care of our communities’ beloved pets/fur buddies.

“We lost Peppy, our mini Schnauzer, to cancer several years ago, and I wish this facility would have been operational then. The level of services and care here will be exceptional.

“Our clients were very visionary with the program for the facility not only technically, but also for their staff, clients and neighborhood. We are sure the staff daycare and the outdoor food truck area will be appreciated by all.

“I want to thank our clients, Empire Construction & Development, the STEELE Team and our consultants for all the effort they’ve put into this wonderful project.”

Charitable Fund and Pet Blood Donor Appeal

As part of its commitment to the community, VRCCO offers the opportunity to support Central Oregon pets by making a tax-deductible monetary donation via the Veterinary Care Charitable Fund. Contributions will provide medical services to the lost, neglected and abused animals that find their way into the hospital and help with care for animals when their owners face extraordinary hardships.

Your dog or cat can also be a hero and save the life of another pet by donating blood. Pets may need transfusions for a variety of reasons including trauma (hit-by-car), cancers and anemia. Blood products are usually needed immediately. They are difficult to get and expensive to obtain and store, which is why VRCCO created its own blood bank. • 541-210-9200


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