Colorado State University Veterinary Program Reductions Will Not Impact Animal Care and Customer Service

Colorado State University announced today that the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital – due to a revenue shortfall brought on by the weakened economy – will eliminate eight positions.

This number of jobs lost has been reduced from preliminary projections based on the hospital’s ability to transfer employees to open positions in other departments of the university and measures to streamline operational costs. Reductions will not impact animal care or customer service, which are foundations of the top-ranking hospital’s success and funding priorities.

"During this difficult process, hospital officials were emphatic that customer service and animal care not be impacted by reductions," said Dr. David Lee, director of the teaching hospital. "Our reputation for providing exceptional care to animals, particularly to those animals which have difficult cases, as well as our commitment to provide each of our customers with the best service available, is critical to the ongoing success of our hospital."

The hospital has reduced operational expenses, placed five employees in different university departments and will eliminate eight full and part-time positions, adding up to a total of a little more than five full-time positions, over the next 12 weeks. Some employees also opted for reduced hours as an additional cost-saving measure for the hospital. Employees impacted by the budget reduction by position eliminations will receive assistance from the teaching hospital in locating other comparable job opportunities.

The revenue shortfall is attributed to the overall economic downturn, which impacts hospital income because clients are opting out of complex and comprehensive treatments for their animals. Because of the hospital’s cutting-edge facilities and treatments, many animal owners are referred to the hospital by family veterinarians and other veterinary experts for additional expertise when the animal’s case become complex and requires more extensive care.

The hospital is part of the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, which is supported by tuition and state funds. The drop in revenue at the teaching hospital is reflective of a trend occurring across the board in other veterinary practices along the Front Range, said Thom Hadley, assistant to the dean for business, finance and information technology.

The hospital, which is part of a nationally-ranked veterinary medicine and biomedical sciences program at the university, is unique to the university because it is dependent upon customers for the majority of its revenue, yet it is required by law, as part of the larger university, to balance its budget each fiscal year. The hospital does not fund salaries for faculty veterinarians, although those veterinarians staff the hospital and teach upper-level students while treating individual animal patients.

Some of the hospital’s clients are referred from around the nation, including animal patients in the hospital’s ground-breaking Animal Cancer Center, while other animal patients with complex cases are generated by referrals from veterinarians along the Front Range.

Positions impacted by elimination were reduced without directly impacting health, safety, animal care and customer service at the hospital. A variety of positions, ranging from veterinary technicians to administrative support, were impacted. Other reductions included reducing funds for students working on an hourly basis at the hospital and streamlining operational expenses.

"Any loss of staff is painful," said Lee. "However, just like private industry, we must adjust to economic realities."

The James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital has about 135 staff members and 55 faculty with an annual budget of $10.3 million. Revenue shortfall from fiscal year 2003-2004 is projected to be approximately $800,000, and the hospital is required by law to balance its budget by June 30, 2004, the end of this fiscal year. The hospital receives approximately $313,000 from state funds. The rest of the budget is generated by animal patient care. Salaries of veterinarian faculty who staff the hospital are funded by tuition revenue through the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

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