5 HOSPITALS THAT ALLOW PET VISITS AND THEIR POLICIES:
Juravinski Hospital, Ontario, Canada:
Juravinski hospital is the first of its kind to start the pet visitation program in Canada. Juravinski has partnered with the ‘Zachary’s Paws For Healing (ZPFH)’ launched by Donna Jenkins in the fall of 2015. Donna started this program after his nephew, Zachary Nobel, had passed away battling cancer. The only thing Zachary wanted during his hospitalization was a visit from his dog, Chase. Jenkins managed to sneak Chase into the ICU and she was stunned to see the effect it had on Zachary’s health. He was overjoyed and his mental and psychological state improved. Though his cancer was really bad he could not make it, he asked Jenkins, during his last time, to help other patients to be able to see their beloved pets in the hospital.
The visit is allowed under a set procedure:
- Pet’s health should be checked before 24 hrs of the visit.
- Pet should be bathed and groomed with nails trimmed and body free of fleas and ticks.
- No feeding up the pet within 2 hrs of the visit.
- Only Cats and Dogs are allowed also only one pet at a time.
- Pet should be at least 6 months old, healthy and should possess a good behavior.
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At the time of placing request:
- Doctor approves for the visit depending upon the patient’s health condition. Doctor’s approval is must.
- If approved, hospital approaches Zachary’s Paws For Healing (ZPFH) to make the required arrangements.
- A family member or a friend is contacted by ZPFH to get the necessary information, like, Pet’s veterinarian contact details, whether the pet is a dog or a cat, age and size of the pet, has the pet undergone any special training, any medical issues, likeness for the strangers, etc.
- If everything goes fine, a visit is arranged within 48 hrs.
At the time of the Visit:
- ZPFH volunteer and the contact person from the family meet at the agreed location and time.
- Volunteer is trained to check pet’s temperament, cleanliness and overall health.
- Pet is then placed in a big comfortable transportation crate to avoid accidents in the hospital.
- Volunteer remains in the patient’s room during the visit to control infection and avoid accidents.
University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore:
University of Maryland Medical Center has a ‘Patient’s Personal/Family Pet Visitation Policy’ that has guidelines to facilitate pet visits under some circumstances, during hospitalization.
They have a set protocol as under:
At the time of placing request:
- Call Pastoral Care Services between Monday-Friday (8.00am-4.30pm)
- You must have a written permission from the physician.
- A ‘Family Pet (Dog/Cat) Visitation Program Health Certificate’ must be completed by the veterinarian and returned to the Pastoral Care Services at least a day before the scheduled visit.
- Release from Responsibility Waiver: Family Pet (Dog/Cat) Visitation is to be received, completed and returned to the Pastoral Care Services.
On acceptance of the request:
- Chaplain will arrange for the visit schedule and location, probably during off-peak visiting hours, may be in the evenings or at the weekends.
- Observe the pet’s overall health prior to visit to make sure it is well enough.
- A proper bath should be given to the pet within 24 hrs before the visit and make sure nails are trimmed and their body is free of fleas and ticks.
- Encourage the pet to urinate before entering the hospital and carry proper arrangements for waste disposal.
[ WORTH READ: COMMON PET TREATMENTS CAN HARM YOUNG CHILDREN ]
Avoid or limit the amount of feed within 2 hrs of the visit.
- Meet the Pastoral Care escort on agreed time and location.
- Chaplain will take you through the designated route.
- In case, if you cannot make it, cancel the Chaplain escort beforehand.
At the time of the visit:
- Pet should wear a coat or a T-shirt to minimize shedding.
- Carry the pet in a pet carrier and leash dog all the time.
- Stay with the pet and keep it under your supervision.
- If the pet is to be placed on the bed, place another sheet on the bed.
- In case, pet urinates or excretes, dispose the waste properly and inform the housekeeping.
- Wash the hands at the end and before leaving the room.
- Inform the Pastoral Care escort at least 15 minutes before leaving, as he will take you back through the designated route.
Rush University Medical Center, Chicago:
After 3 years of rigorous studies on the issues related to the pet visitation, Rush University Medical Center released its Pet Visitation Policy in February, 2015. This is the first hospital in Chicago to start such provision. It had to face criticism from the people because they felt it unhygienic to bring pets near patients in the hospital. But after many researches it is proved that pets act as a recovery booster for their patients.
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Summary of 21-points formal policy is as under:
- Only dogs and cats are allowed mostly, but doctor has the right to decide on the kind of the pet.
- Physician’s approval is must.
- Patient’s roommate consent is also required, if he/she is not comfortable, visit can take place in another room.
- Pet must be healthy, full at the time of the visit and properly groomed.
It is fascinating to know that apart from the pet visitation, COCO, a furry rabbit, visits all the hospitalized children and brightens up their day.
Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston:
Texas Children’s Hospital had also started Pet Visitor’s Program in 2008 when it was approached by a non-profit organization ‘PAWS (Pets Are Wonderful Support)’.
[ WORTH READ: THE POTENTIALLY DEADLY TREAT YOU’RE PROBABLY GIVING YOUR DOG ]
Summary of the guidelines of the program are as under:
- A child life specialist from the hospital speaks to the doctor, under whom the treatment is going on, for his consent.
- If the doctor permits, PAWS is approached.
- A volunteer from the PAWS meet the family member and the pet at the entrance of the hospital and screens the pet for a temperament-check and other factors.
- If everything is fine, pet is taken to the patient’s room.
North Shore University Hospital, Long Island:
North Shore University Hospital in Long Island permits the pets of the patients all the time, other than night, in its 10-bed Palliative Care Unit.
Summary of rules are as under:
- A doctor has to give a written consent of the pet’s visit.
- Attestation from the veterinarian of the pet about the health is obtained.
- Groomed and healthy pets, cats and dogs, are allowed to visit.
- Cat must be carried in a carrier and the dogs must be leashed while taking them through the corridors.
- Pets can stay for whole day but have to be taken back at night.
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Although pet therapy has been a common practice followed in hospitals. Pet visitation is a bit different as it involves patient’s own pet. There have been controversies on the pet visitation provisions but researches have shown that pet visitation has given better results. May be because in pet therapy trained dogs pick up more infections since they have to go room to room, but in pet visitation, pets stay with their own patients. Discarding this pet visitation is not a good idea; however, hospital management can to tough policies in order to minimize infections. We must come in support of the pet visits as we cannot share any patient’s physical pain but we can definitely help him meet his beloved four-legged that can bring smiles, at least for a little time.