31 May 2016

Hospitals Let Pets Visit Sick Owners


Many hospitals have pet therapy programs, where specially trained pets come to a hospital or other health care facility and visit. But when it's the patient’s own pet visiting, it can be even more special.

With this in mind, Jill Malan, manager of Child Life Services at St. Louis Children's Hospital proposed a room at the hospital which could facilitate visits between patients and their cats and dogs.

"Our doctors see every day the importance of medicine and world class technology," said Malan. "We see every day the impact a child's emotional well-being has on their overall recovery."

Purina provided a $450,000 donation for construction and staffing of the Purina Family Pet Center which opened this month.

The Center gives patients the opportunity to see their pets without leaving the building, their doctors or the technology on which so many of them rely.

The 300-square-foot room, adjacent to the hospital's second-floor entrance, features washable surfaces and windows to provide natural light. It can accommodate a child in a wheelchair or hospital bed, and provides a comfortable, private visiting space for the child, pet and family. It will also include toys for the pets and Purina treats.

The Juravinski Hospital, a small health-care facility in Hamilton, Ontario allows a patient’s pet to visit in their hospital room. Each pet who comes to visit must be bathed first, healthy and well-tempered. The animals are also not allowed to have any contact with other patients.

That program was launched by Donna Jenkins in 2015 after her 25-year-old nephew, Zachary, begged her to let him see his dogs one last time before he died.

"Before he died, he made me promise that we would have an organization available that if any patient at Juravinski wanted to see their pet, they had that opportunity," Jenkins told CTV.

The Faithful Friends program at the University of Maryland Medical Centre, which has been running since 2008, allows both cats and dogs to visit their owners for the entire day.

The Faithful Friends program is generally used by patients who are hospitalized for longer periods, those potentially approaching end of life or patients whose pet is suffering from duress by being separated from his owner.

The Wolfston Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville Florida has a Healing Paws program that allows patient’s dogs to visit for up to an hour.

"The dogs get so excited to see their human again, and the kids really perk up when they know their pet is going to visit," Pat Kirkland, manager of Family Support Services and head of the Healing Paws program says. "If we can make their day a little bit brighter by bringing in their best friend, we consider that an accomplishment."

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