Madison Taliaferro spent weeks in the hospital in 2012. After a decade of suffering from cystic fibrosis, she underwent a double lung transplant. She powered through the difficult surgery and the recovery that followed –long days of physical therapy and rehabilitation. Her parents were there. Her best friend visited from Kansas. Grandparents rotated shifts so she was never alone. But one request still lingered.
“I just wanted to see my dogs,” she remembers.
Having suffered from the effects of chronic illness for the decade prior, Madison was no stranger to long days at home, isolated from the school germs that could turn her illness into a critical condition with a single sneeze. When her friends couldn’t visit, her dogs were there. But at the hospital, they weren’t.
Madison’s story is typical of many children who have to a spend lengthy time in hospitals and are deprived of the fury love of their pets.
There are numerous studies that have proved that spending time with pets can reduce pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue in people with a wide range of health issues, and those staying in long-term care facilities.
This call for pets to be able to visit their loved ones in a hospital setting was the impetus for Purina to partner with St. Louis Children’s Hospital and build the Purina Family Pet Center. The center, the first of its kind in the region, and the fourth in the world, gives children the opportunity to see their pets, whether it’s a cat, dog or a rabbit — without leaving the hospital, their doctors or the technology on which so many of them rely.
The 300-square-foot room, adjacent to the hospital’s second-floor entrance, features washable surfaces and windows to provide natural light. It can accommodate a child in a wheelchair or hospital bed, and provides a comfortable, private visiting space for the child, pet and family. Of course it is stocked with dog toys and treats.
“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.”
Purina behaviorists were very hands on in setting up the facility providing insights on the type of construction materials, access flow for the pets, furniture, paint colors and photos that will make the space warm and welcoming for the families and pets.
The Purina Family Pet Center was officially by a Golden Retriever-Labrador mix named Happy Jack who performed the ribbon-tugging ceremony.
Hopefully it will become the blueprint for more centers such as this one to be considered in more hospitals around the country. You can learn more about this project here.
This post was sponsored by Purina. However, all opinions are my own. I only write about topics, events and products that I consider readers will consider useful information and relevant to their interests.