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Rush Hospital allows pet visits for patients

Dogs and cats are now allowed to visit their owners at Rush University Medical Center in the Chicago area.

Rush approved the new pet policy in December. That’s after three years of infection control research and observing similar policies at hospitals in Michigan and Iowa.

Diane Gallagher, associate vice president of nursing operations at Rush, says therapy animals like dogs and rabbits are common in pediatric care. Visits from pets and friends and family have already proven to be important in the recovery process.

“It’s not just good for the patients, it’s good for the staff that are involved, too. Because sometimes in a hospital, you’re getting treatments you know you need that are unpleasant, to say the least, and this is just one thing you can do to make it a little bit easier,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher says each pet will need approval to visit the hospital. That includes a behavior assessment and a record of vaccinations.

She says not many have taken advantage of the policy so far, but she hopes the program will become more typical in patient recovery.

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