Hospital Builds Room Where Patients Can Play With Their Pets

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Studies have proven how animals have a significant positive impact on our day-to-day lives. When stress at work or school has got you down, your four-legged best friend is there to bring you back up. When something in your life has gone wrong, your cuddly pooch or kitty is there to wipe away the tears and make you feel better.

Unfortunately, patients who spend months after months in hospitals don’t have that luxury. Whether they are recovering from surgery or undergoing chemotherapy, children at St. Louis Children’s Hospital often wished they could be able to see their pets.

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Jill Malan, manager of Child Life Services at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, recently proposed the idea of building a room in the hospital where patients would safely be able to interact with their family pets. Research has shown that spending time with animals can reduce depression, anxiety, pain, and fatigue in people with various health issues and those staying in long-term care facilities.

“As soon as she suggested it, I knew we had to make it happen,” says Larry Vancil, director of facility services at Children’s.

Vanilla contacted the St.Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation to get the ball rolling. The Foundation, in turn, contacted Purina if they wanted to support the construction and staffing of the center, and the pet food giant did not hesitate. Purina donated $450,000 and The Purina Family Pet Center officially opened at the hospital.

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The 300-square-foot room is adjacent to the hospital’s second floor entrance and features washable surfaces and windows to provide plenty of natural light. The room can accommodate hospital beds and wheelchairs, and also has plenty of toys  and Purina treats so patients can play and feed their pets.

“We are so grateful to have received this gift,” says Flip Becker, senior director with the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation. “I know what a difference this will make in the lives of our patients – a difference only made possible through the generous support of Purina.”

Hopefully, this room can provide some quality playtime for patients and their trusty pets and serve as reminder that their trusty animals will be patiently waiting for them at home when they return.