Centaur Equine Specialty Hospital

The main entrance to the Centaur Equine Specialty Hospital takes shape as construction work progresses.

The main entrance to the Centaur Equine Specialty Hospital takes shape as construction work progresses.

Purdue Veterinary Medicine's satellite equine facility nears completion in Shelbyville, Ind.

Over the past year, workers have transformed a corn field in Shelby County, Ind., into a state-of-the-art facility for advanced medical treatment of equine athletes. A satellite facility of the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, the Centaur Equine Specialty Hospital is set to open early in 2017, with the mission of maximizing the performance of all horses used for sport, competition or pleasure by preventing, diagnosing and treating diseases or conditions that keep equine athletes from achieving their full potential.

The $8.8 million structure encompasses 17,000 square feet, and is located just a few miles from the track at Indiana Grand Racing and Casino in Shelbyville, and within an hour's drive from Hoosier Park in Anderson, Ind. The Centaur Equine Specialty Hospital will provide specialty medical and surgical services for horse owners while also supporting equine research and education of future equine specialists.

Site preparation began during the fall of 2015, at the time of the official groundbreaking. Actual construction started in the spring with the goal of having the hospital complete by the end of 2016. The property was purchased by the Purdue Research Foundation with $2.3 million in support from Shelby County and the City of Shelbyville. Centaur Gaming, which owns and operates Indiana Grand Racing and Casino and Hoosier Park, pledged $3.1 million to name the facility.

New stalls await patients at the Centaur Equine Specialty Hospital.

New stalls await patients at the Centaur Equine Specialty Hospital.

The Centaur Equine Specialty Hospital will offer advanced diagnostic imaging, shockwave therapy, nuclear medicine, regenerative medicine, endoscopic laser surgery and specialized equine orthopedic and soft tissue surgery. "The goal is to be one of the premier performance horse hospitals in the country," said Dr. Stephen Adams, Purdue Veterinary Medicine professor of large animal surgery, who helped with planning for the new facility. "To achieve that goal, the hospital will include some of the most advanced diagnostic equipment, including an Equine 4DDI diagnostic imaging system."

The 4DDI machine contains two robotic arms, allowing a horse to walk in-between for more efficient processing. "There are only two other places in the United States that currently offer the 4DDI machine and we will be the third," said Dr. Mimi Arighi, associate professor of large animal surgery and member of the College's Department of Veterinary Administration, who serves as the lead faculty member on the facility planning committee. "The other two are located at the New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania and Cornell Ruffian Equine Specialists on Long Island outside Belmont Park." The unit can perform all types of diagnostic techniques, including x-rays, fluoroscopy, CT and tomosynthesis. "The big difference with the 4DDI machine is that a horse can stand during the procedure," explained Dr. Arighi. "With all other systems, a horse has to be under anesthesia for procedures like CT, which is always a risky thing to deal with when treating a horse."

The new hospital also will offer nuclear imaging, which works with radioactive iodine to pinpoint where the equine patient's problem might lie and where x-rays should be taken. The system uses a Gamma Camera, just like the kind used for humans, and is capable of a total body bone scan.

Other features of the gated hospital complex include a canopied entrance that leads into two holding stalls for outpatient work. The lobby has hospitality areas for guests and a private consultation room. A separate barn that is connected by a walkway holds six regular stalls, four of which have outside doors to paddock areas and two with just windows. The barn also features two larger mare and foal stalls and one isolation stall. The isolation stall only has access from the outside and is an essential feature for preventing the spread of infection to other animals. "The isolation portion of the barn has three separate areas," explained Dr. Arighi. "There are two outer rooms leading into the stall to ensure whatever infection is in there stays in there. Extra exterior garments are put on before entering the actual stall and are removed as the person exits the stall and moves through the zone rooms."

A round pen is constructed behind the hospital.

A round pen is constructed behind the hospital.

Siding goes up on the barn adjacent to the hospital’s treatment areas.

Siding goes up on the barn adjacent to the hospital's treatment areas.

A round pen at the back part of the clinic will be utilized for orthopedic and respiratory diagnoses. In addition a long hallway constructed on the side of the facility will serve as the "lameness hallway" — an area sheltered from the weather where a horse will be able to step up its gait. Additional buildings will be placed on the back part of the property for storage, equipment and supplies. The facility also has been designed for expansion down the road.

The College already has recruited a team of specialists who will work with horse owners and trainers to provide the most current diagnostic tests and the most effective therapeutics. The team will be led by Dr. Timm Gudehus, senior veterinary surgeon, who started in October in order to help with preparations for the opening of the facility and to get acquainted with area horse owners and veterinarians in all three breeds of the racing industry as well as other disciplines of horses in the region.

Dr. Gudehus comes to Indiana from Germany where he served as an equine surgery specialist since 2012. His love of horses and equestrian sports dates back to his early childhood, growing up in a family with a long history of horse riding and breeding. His interest in riding show-jumpers turned semi-professional as he finished high school and went on to veterinary school in Munich. After earning the German equivalent of the DVM degree, and completing an internship in Munich, he came to the U.S. for an internship in equine orthopedics in California, followed by a residency in equine surgery at the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine.

"This additional training in the U.S. exposed me to all the equine disciplines that I hadn't seen until that point, especially Thoroughbreds, racing Quarter Horses and a little bit of Western performance," said Dr. Gudehus. "That was followed by a two-year stint as a staff surgeon in Auckland, New Zealand, which added the very last discipline that I hadn't worked on, which was Standardbreds."

Dr. Gudehus returned to Germany with his wife, an American citizen and small animal veterinarian, to become the leading surgeon at one of the largest and fastest growing hospitals in Europe, where he worked on Olympic-level Warmblood horses. "That adds up to 13 years as a veterinarian, almost ten in my surgical training, and six years as a boarded surgeon, on three continents and back, in every discipline," he said.

Now that he is back in the U.S., he is enthusiastic about taking on the challenge of opening the new Centaur Equine Specialty Hospital. "I am excited about the fact that pretty much all these equine disciplines are gathered around the new facility in Shelbyville. I really hope that people will look at this and say 'cool, here's somebody who otherwise we would have to fly in,' to do exactly what I will be providing at this facility," Dr. Gudehus explained. "I also am really excited to work on race-horses again...my heart beats with the speed horses."

Purdue Veterinary Medicine Dean Willie Reed said, with the benefit of the remarkable experience and expertise of Dr. Gudehus, the state-of-the-art facility will be a priceless resource for the Indiana equine industry. "I couldn't be more pleased with the way in which the dream of a world-class equine specialty hospital in proximity to our state's two race tracks is becoming a reality," Dean Reed said.

Meet the team

Dr. Timm Gudehus

Dr. Timm Gudehus
Senior Veterinary Surgeon

Dr. Kayla Le

Dr. Kayla Le
Associate Veterinary Surgeon

Shelby Harber, RVT

Shelby Harber, RVT
Lead Diagnostic Imaging Technologist & Surgical Nurse

Cheryl Boyd, LVT

Cheryl Boyd, LVT
Chief Anesthesia Technologist

In addition to recruiting Dr. Gudehus, the College hired Dr. Kayla Le as associate veterinary surgeon and two equine veterinary technologists. Dr. Le earned her DVM degree at Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine in 2014 and then completed an equine medical and surgical rotating internship at the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine and a large animal surgical internship at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Originally from Omaha, Neb., Dr. Le participated in western horseback riding growing up. She also owned horses and was involved in the rodeo.

Shelby Harber, RVT, lead diagnostic imaging technologist and surgical nurse, and Cheryl Boyd, LVT, chief anesthesia technologist, came on board earlier in the year and have been training in the College's Large Animal Hospital during the construction of the facility in Shelbyville. "The Centaur Equine Specialty Hospital will accommodate all aspects of equine surgery necessary to optimize the performance of sport horses," said Dr. Gudehus. "We will treat respiratory, orthopedic and every aspect of fracture repair."

"We are committed to several core values that will characterize the treatment provided," said Dr. Adams. "Those values include excellence in patient care; education of horse owners, trainers, caregivers, veterinarians and veterinary students to optimize the health of horses; improvement of the health and wellbeing of equine athletes through clinical research to advance diagnostic and therapeutics; to act ethically with all clients and exhibit the integrity clients expect and deserve; and to deliver value to each client by providing efficient service and individual care of each patient. The health and welfare of the horse is the highest priority."

As construction work is wrapping up, the move-in process is set to begin in December with the goal of opening the center after the first of the year. Horse owners, trainers and equine enthusiasts who attend Purdue Veterinary Medicine's annual Horseman's Forum February 11 will have a chance to see the new hospital first-hand. Normally held at the College in West Lafayette, the Horseman's Forum will be held at Indiana Grand Racing and Casino for 2017 only, allowing for tours of the Centaur Equine Specialty Hospital. An official Grand Opening for the new hospital is planned in the spring, at the start of the 2017 racing season.

This story is part of the 2016 Annual PVM Report.

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