Ridge Animal Hospital: Caring for Farmville Pets Since 1978 – Farmville

By Ireland Seagle

Farmville magazine

Did you know that veterinarians and veterinary assistants at Ridge Animal Hospital see over 40 patients a day? This achievement is possible thanks to the recently completed renovations of the firm. Completed in December 2021, this new expansion was born out of the hospital’s growing clientele.

As the hospital’s director, Sydney French, explains, “Over the past few years, we have felt that we have outgrown our space.

Hospital treatment areas and exam rooms were crowded, making it difficult for veterinary staff to see appointments effectively. For this build, “our goal was to create a very convenient workspace where our patients and clients can be comfortable and where our doctors and staff can operate more efficiently,” continues French. Many hospital staff and veterinarians, including Dr. Mark French, were instrumental in these new changes.

After creating plans to begin construction in the summer of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic halted hospital plans through early 2021. During renovations, vets and practice staff were flexible to work in chaos. Patients and customers at Ridge Animal Hospital were also very understanding of the new changes. “There were definitely a few tough times – the three days we spent dismantling our old brick fireplace come to mind – and the hardest part was working in an ever-changing space,” says Sydney French. In the face of these obstacles, the staff at Ridge Animal have maintained their professional and considerate attitude.

Despite the mess generated by the construction, Ridge Animal Hospital remained open for the majority of the renovation. The firm only closed a week earlier to redo the floors and paint one or two exam rooms at a time. In fact, hospital staff decided to keep the building operational due to local and national demand for veterinary services. As Sydney French points out, “We were concerned that decreasing our hours or patient volume would impose undue hardship on both our customers and our nearby emergency hospitals. »

After months of work, the modifications to Ridge Animal Hospital have been completed. The renovation nearly doubled the square footage of the practice by adding two new exam rooms, an ultrasound room, a surgical suite, a dental suite, dedicated lab space, a new isolation room, a cat room, a medical office and a rest room for the staff. Some of the hospital’s existing spaces, including reception and treatment areas, have also been expanded. Through these changes, the hospital has increased its ability to see more patients and use its treatment spaces more productively. “Things like… streamlining our surgical prep area ensures that each doctor has their own work space without crowding each other, which in turn leads to a calmer and more efficient environment for our patients” , explains Sydney French.

This recent expansion follows an earlier change in 2007 when the hospital increased the number of exam rooms from two to four, bolstering staff capacity to assist and treat clients. During this construction, the firm also expanded its treatment and kennel spaces, while building its current lobby.

Prior to its two respective renovations, Ridge Animal Hospital was born out of the efforts of Dr. James “Jimmy” Gates and his late wife, Dianne Gates. Following their aspirations to bring modern veterinary medicine to the Farmville area, the Gates opened Ridge Animal in 1978. In truth, Dianne had a lasting impact on the business. “She was instrumental in its foundations, both tangible and philosophical,” says Sydney French. Although Dr. Gates retired from practice three years ago, he still visits the hospital from time to time.

Although the staff at Ridge Animal Hospital are thrilled with the new improvements to the building, they continue to plan for the future of the practice. “Our goal is to continue to serve our customers and patients for many years to come and to bring new vets to our hospital, so that we can welcome anyone who needs us,” says Sydney French.


Dr Mark French

Where do you come from? Mt. Washington, Kentucky, which is just south of Louisville.

Where did you go to school? I attended Elizabethtown Community College for two years and then went to the University of Kentucky for a year. I then completed my bachelor’s degree in animal science at Auburn University in 1985.

Why did you choose this profession? In fact, I decided in college that I wanted to be a veterinarian. I loved science and wanted to be outdoors. I had no idea what veterinary medicine entailed until I spent time in a veterinary clinic in high school. I loved it, so I hung on.

How long have you been a veterinarian? Since 1985, so almost 37 years.

How long have you been at Ridge Animal Hospital? My whole career. When I was looking for a place to learn veterinary medicine, I thought Ridge Animal was the best place for me.

Tell me a unique fact about yourself. I grew up with eight sisters and I am the only boy in the family.


Dr. Andrea Kellum

Where do you come from? Anywhere in Virginia. I grew up in Roanoke and Ashland and lived all over Virginia. I lived in Culpeper for a while, and now I live in Rice.

Where did you go to school? I graduated from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in 2006.

Why did you choose this profession? I have always loved animals. I have always been intrigued by biology and the body. The more I learned, the more fascinated I was. I also like this job because there is always something new. I’m always learning that there are better ways to do things, and there’s always something more to learn in this career.

How long have you been a veterinarian? I have been in a veterinary clinic since the age of 15. I worked there in high school when I could. After graduating, I worked elsewhere for five years. I then found myself in a veterinary clinic, so I resumed my studies to become a veterinarian.

How long have you been at Ridge Animal Hospital? I started in January 2016, so six years.

Tell me a unique fact about yourself. I really like horses and camping. I like to travel. If I can travel with my horses and go camping, that’s my favorite thing to do.


Dr. Chelsie Novitske

Where do you come from? Keysville

Where did you go to school? I graduated from Virginia Tech with my Bachelor of Science in Animal and Poultry Science. Then I attended North Carolina State University to complete my Masters in Physiology.

Why did you choose this profession? My love for animals and the desire to help them feel better.

How long have you been a veterinarian? For four years. I also graduated four years ago.

How long have you been at Ridge Animal Hospital? Almost four years. It will be four years in July.

Tell me a unique fact about yourself. I love playing disc golf with my husband. I also have a 220 pound English Mastiff named Gus.

Benjamin M. Yerger