You can hear the excitement in their voices. Dr. Chris Miller and Dr. Matt Antkowiak are anxious to open Atlas Vet on H Street NE (between 13th and 14th Streets, across from the Atlas Performing Arts Center). Visiting their soon-to-be clinic and observing a day’s worth of construction, they get excited about a newly installed pane of glass or a polished countertop. As they should be – their new business is slated to open in a month or so, and these two Hill residents are enthused to be able to work in their neighborhood and have big plans for the future of pet care on the Hill.
With construction of Atlas Vet reaching its conclusion, I toured the 3,500+ square-foot facility with Chris and Matt one evening. Unlike smaller start-ups that have to attempt expansion when business heats up, Chris and Matt have planned for growth over time in their space. The four exam rooms and two operating rooms provide an expandable capacity for the staff at Atlas, which will start out with two doctors and build up to as many as four along with technicians and support staff. The bright spaces of the clinic are given ample natural light wherever possible (even in an operating room!), and accent walls are painted alternating energetic oranges, blues, and greens.
Chris noted Atlas Vet will be full-service and will offer medical exams and procedural services for cats, dogs, and small mammals, but not birds or reptiles at present. There will be an on-site lab for processing blood and other tests. Talks of expanded services in the future are already under way, with the partners contemplating a 24-hour urgent care at some point down the road. Atlas Vet will also sell prescription diets and medical supplies.
Miller and Antkowiak have put a lot of consideration into the construction and operations of their office. They have invested in new technologies for both the office management and diagnostics – including a digital x-ray machine – that will assist them in their goal of running a paperless practice. They have attempted to incorporate environmentally-sensitive practices into their construction process as well, using salvaged building materials and equipment located with the assistance of their contractor. Many of the granite countertops in the exam rooms have been taken from demolition projects and re-purposed, for example. Daylight is provided in the front waiting area as well as the two large rooms at the back of the facility – one used as an employee break room and the other a temporary boarding room for dogs awaiting care.
While the main entrance is found on H Street, Miller noted they are in negotiations to lease a small number of off-street parking spaces behind the facility. a convenient entry at the rear of the space leads from the parking to the reception desk.
The office website isn’t up and running just yet, but Antkowiak noted they are planning to offer an online appointment request service that clients can use to contact Atlas. The service won’t allow scheduling (this isn’t Open Table for dogs), but will allow patients to contact Atlas to describe symptoms or request an appointment for an annual exam, and staff will return the correspondence to set up the appointment. In the meantime, you can follow Atlas Vet on Facebook or Twitter (@atlasvetdc).
Both Miller and Antkowiak are Hill residents, and are excited to be able to walk to work and to have a positive impact on the community. Both have volunteered at spay and neuter clinics in the past and hope to cultivate relationships with the DC Humane Society and rescue groups to continue giving. They also look forward to partnering with other H Street businesses for special events.
Look for the Atlas Vet open house in January.