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Local hospital ahead of the curve with pet policies

Published: Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 1:53 p.m. CDT
(SVM file photo)
Cally Lanae, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel owned by Wendy Johnson, sits on the lap of patient Robin Jaggers while making her rounds in December at CGH Medical Center in Sterling. Cally is a participant in the Love on a Lease dog therapy program.

Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center made news last week with its policy allowing patients to have pets stay in certain patients’ rooms.

It was believed to be the first Chicago hospital to do so.

In the Sauk Valley, such a move isn’t so groundbreaking.

Sterling’s CGH Medical Center has long allowed dogs and cats to visit patients.

“We don’t really have a policy on it,” said Dana McCoy, CGH’s marketing director. “It’s on a case-by-case basis.”

Recently, she said, a patient on the medical floor was with her dog throughout the day.

“The pets have to have their shots up to date and not be disruptive, but we haven’t had a problem with it. All of the animals have been well-behaved,” McCoy said. “We can’t remember when we haven’t done it this way.”

KSB Hospital, on other hand, doesn’t permit pets, but it’s studying whether it should change that policy, spokesman Tom Demmer said. The hospital must consider the benefits and the drawbacks and look at such issues as infections, he said.

Last year, CGH unveiled its Love on a Leash dog therapy program, in which the hospital has dogs visit patients.

“People do love their pets,” McCoy said. “Patients are asked every day if they would like a pet visit. The dogs are well-trained, and we have seen a lot of benefits in people’s mental psyche when they’re having a dog visit.”

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