Dr. Watson H. Matthews (1925-1986) founded Ebenezer Animal Clinic in 1946 after graduating from Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. He moved back to the township of Ebenezer and started his practice from his family’s home and began practicing medicine in the backyard chicken house. At that time, his patients were mainly horses, cattle, and hogs on the farm with an occasional dog coming to his clinic for a vaccine. In 1948, he built the brick Ebenezer Animal Clinic building. That building stood as a Rock Hill landmark on the corner of Ebenezer Road and Herlong Avenue for the next 52 years.
First Became a Multi-Doctor Practice in 1976
In 1968, Dr. Matthews stopped going on farm calls and started to emphasize companion animals, although he would see any farm animals delivered to the clinic. In 1976, he hired his first associate veterinarian and turned Ebenezer into a multi-doctor practice. Dr. Lawrence came to work at Ebenezer in 1985 after practicing at Bethel Animal Clinic in Lake Wylie. Soon after coming on board, the two doctors agreed that Dr. Lawrence would purchase the practice in 1990, giving Dr. Matthews peace of mind that the clinic would be taken care of after his retirement. The next year on August 25, 1986, tragedy struck and Rock Hill lost one of it’s finest citizens. Dr. Matthews suffered a massive heart attack and passed away the next day.
After time to deal with their loss, Dr. Lawrence purchased the hospital from Mrs. Matthews and promised to continue the growth that Dr. Matthews started in 1948.
In 1995, the idea of moving the clinic from the corner of Herlong and Ebenezer presented itself and plans were drawn for a new building further down Ebenezer Road. In 1997, construction began and the grand opening of the new Ebenezer Animal Hospital took place in July of 1998. The staff took pride in Rock Hill’s largest and most state-of-the-art veterinary facility.
An Excellent Place for Vets to Fulfill their Dreams
Throughout the years, many veterinarians have come through EAH before moving on to build and purchase their own facilities. The hospital has proven to be a great place for vets to build their careers before following their dream of practice ownership. Each vet brought something different, allowing EAH to provide a wide array of services outside the normal small animal practice including exotic medicine, behavioral training, and complex surgery.
In 2004, the practice welcomed April Splawn, a recent graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law, as their new hospital administrator. While in law school, she realized that animal health was her true calling and has enjoyed managing the staff, finances, and business side of EAH ever since. In 2008, Dr. Jay Hreiz, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania joined the Ebenezer team. Dr. Hreiz has a very strong background in avian and exotics medicine and found EAH to be the perfect fit. Both Dr. Hreiz and April found working with the staff of EAH and the community of Rock Hill very fulfilling and couldn’t imagine a better place to come to work everyday. So when Dr. Lawrence presented them with the opportunity to purchase the practice in 2013 they couldn’t turn it down. After 27 years and much thought, Dr. Lawrence decided it was time to pass the torch and enjoy life as a part time associate veterinarian.
The Future of Ebenezer Animal Hospital
October 8, 2013 started a new chapter of Ebenezer’s long history. The hospital’s new owners have great vision for the future of Ebenezer and have already added new services, a new doctor, and a new look. While continuing to add services to meet the needs of their clients and patients, Dr. Hreiz and April plan to continue the long lasting legacy of high quality medical care and community service that Dr. Matthews started so many years ago.
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