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Hospital Pet Programs Unleash Healing Powers

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Because the proposed center will have an exterior door and pets will not need to move through the hospital, there will also be less risk of aggravating allergies of other patients and visitors, he says.

"Our goal is to allow pets to visit patients with a minimum of inconvenience and cost to patients, families, and pets," Perentesis says. "It will be easier for the family, who is already under a lot of stress."

Expected to be completed this summer, the pet-visiting center will have both indoor and outdoor space and will allow two pet visits at a time, he says. Grant funding from CancerFree KIDS, a Loveland, Ohio, nonprofit organization, will help pay for construction of the center.

Pet visitation programs are in place not only at large academic medical centers such as Cincinnati Children's, but also at rural hospitals such as Grinnell Regional Medical Center in Iowa. As part of an initiative to create a healing environment that includes nature, the pet-visiting program initially focused on hospice patients and expanded from there, says Todd Linden, president and chief executive officer.

To see a version of this story for physicians, visit Medscape, the leading site for physicians and health care professionals. 

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