A report in yesterday's Virginia Weekly incorrectly stated the date of the opening of the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg. It is scheduled Sunday at 2 p.m.
The Marion DuPont Scott Equine Medical Center, which is expected to be one of the most sophisticated horse hospitals in the world, officially opens in Leesburg Saturday in a state where horses are a $320 million-a-year industry.
The center is expected to play a major role in supporting the horse industries here and in Maryland, and, by furthering the science of equine veterinary medicine, to have an impact throughout the United States.
In 1983, equestrian sporting events throughout the country attracted more than 100 million spectators and were responsible for generating $1.3 billion in government revenues, according to the American Horse Council.
Even though it hasn't formally opened yet, the center, located in the heart of Virginia's horse country and built with a $4 million gift from the late Virginia horsewoman Marian DuPont Scott, is already treating patients.
It is affiliated with the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, which has campuses at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg and at the University of Maryland in College Park.
Dr. G. Frederick Fregin, the center's director, said the facility should be fully operational by Saturday's dedication ceremony. So far, close to $1.2 million has gone into purchasing equipment, and at least $800,000 more will be spent for equipment , Fregin said.
"In time, we hope to have the most modern, the very latest and most sophisticated veterinary medical equipment," said Jeffrey S. Douglas, information officer at Virginia Tech.
Among facilities at the center are a soft-tissue surgery facility, an orthopedic surgery unit, two radiographic suites, in-hospital accommodations for 24 horses, a clinical pathology laboratory and intensive care facilities to treat five horses.
The intensive care unit can provide around-the-clock monitoring of each horse's heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate and temperature.
The stalls are specially designed so that once a patient is removed, the living quarters can be sterilized.
The radiographic services range from a general procedures room equipped to handle routine cases, to a special procedures room with equipment designed for detailed radiographic procedures on horses that have been anesthetized and are prone on a specially constructed X-ray table.
There is also a mobile X-ray unit that can be moved to any part of the hospital.
According to Fregin, the center is a full-service hospital where "anything can take place," from standard operations to more specialized procedures that many area veterinary clinics do not perform.
Fregin said the center has already treated about 50 patients, including horses from Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Canada. He anticipates the center will eventually treat the entire spectrum of equine patients, " . . . from the smallest of ponies to the largest of horses."
"Horses are going to be here more frequently for the more complicated procedures that can't be done elsewhere," Fregin said. All patients must be referred by veterinarians.
Fregin said there is "no question that the expenses for offering the services that we will have here . . . would be more than they would be" elsewhere. Even routine procedures, he said, "would be more expensive, because our overhead is higher."
However, he said, "we've had pet horses here already, which amazes me."
Fregin said the center will undertake research programs supported by private donations of horses for that purpose. An example would be a horse with chronic lameness, he said.
But no horses sent as patients will be used for research, he said.
So far, the faculty consists of Fregin, formerly director of equine research at Cornell University, Dr. Ken Sullins from Colorado State University, and Drs. Shauna and Gary Spurlock from Tufts University.
The center lies on 200 acres donated by the Westmoreland Davis Foundation, which owns the 1,200-acre Morgan Park estate adjacent to the center. The center complex includes a commemorative room with furnishings from the Marian DuPont Scott estate, Montpelier, in Orange, Va., and paintings of some of her best known race horses.
The center is designed to be self-supporting. Most, if not all, of its funding will come from clinical fees and private donations. The Office of University Development at Virginia Tech coordinates fund-raising activities to augment the center's budget.
Because of its affiliation with the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, the equine center will eventually offer fourth-year students of the college an opportunity for specialized study in equine medicine and surgical procedures. Short courses on equine topics will be offered to practicing veterinarians.
On Saturday, the formal dedication ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) will present the keynote address. William E. Lavery, president of Virginia Tech, John S. Toll, president of the University of Maryland, and Dr. Peter T. McGovern, interim dean of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, will also speak.
There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony and visitors will have a chance to tour the 67,000 square-foot hospital plant.