A growing number of hospitals around the country are prescribing what they call “pet medicine” to boost patients’ spirits. They’re allowing family cats and dogs to visit. North Shore University Hospital and the Hospice Inn, both on Long Island, even let pets stay with patients around the clock.
Among participants in this trend are the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics, two Mayo Clinic-related hospitals and more than a dozen other medical centers. Requirements usually include a doctor’s approval and proof the pet is healthy and vaccinated. Cats must be taken in and out of the hospitals in carriers.
Questions were raised about possible health risks from pets, but Rush University Medical Center in Chicago decided that the benefits to patients outweighed the risks, with one observer there concluding that the visits allow patients to get in touch with a part of their lives that is often lost in the hospital. ❖