This post is sponsored by Purina.
I haven’t had too many experiences with pediatric hospitals and for that I am grateful. But I’m not that far removed. I spent several days at St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, TN a few years ago. And I also keep up with my friend Dawn and her son Zack, who have a frequent visitors’ cards at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
A few things I’ve learned from those experiences.
Children are surprising resilient, sometimes more so than the adults caring for them.
Animals have a special power to help with both mental and physical healing.
It’s not uncommon for local dogs to be brought into a hospital, especially to the children’s ward. These therapy dogs are taught to calmly lay or cuddle with sick children and provide comfort.
Recently, I was on a flight from San Diego to Baltimore and a gentleman sat next to me. Before I knew it, he had a dog on his lap. As the flight attendants approached him about putting that dog away! he explained that Vivian, a chihuahua-min pin mix was his emotional support dog and he had the doctor’s note to verify that.
I didn’t pry into his personal life or his need for an emotional support dog but I do know that Vivian’s appearance made everyone around our row relax, smile, and check on her during the flight.
While animals can bring joy and comfort to our lives, pets bring exactly what this man needed and what many of us need: emotional support.
Think of sick children in the hospital with extended stays. They have family and friends come to visit but their often missing that quiet comfort of their own pet.
In St. Louis, Purina is helping to change all that. When Jill Malan, manager of Child Life Services at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, proposed the idea of a room at the hospital which could facilitate visits between patients and their cats and dogs. Purina was immediately on board.
Knowing the impact a child’s emotional wellbeing has on their overall recovery, Purina supported the construction and staffing of the center with a gift of $450,000. On May 18, 2016, the Purina Family Pet Center officially opened at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
“At Purina we believe that pets and people are better together, and our friends at St. Louis Children’s Hospital clearly share our belief,” said Nina Leigh Krueger, Purina president. “Our goal for the Purina Family Pet Center is to bring joy and comfort to children and their families by helping them reunite with their pets during their stay.”
This is the first type of facility in this region and only the fourth in the world. I can only hope this sets an example not only for other children’s hospitals but also for any long-term care facility. Like Purina, I also believe that pets and people are better together.