Pets help speed recoveries at one Michigan hospital

Sunday, May 23, 2004

DEARBORN, Mich. -- Feeling sick as a dog? Patients at some Michigan hospitals may get comfort and a speedier recovery with a visit from their own pooch.

"We had a patient who kept saying she missed her pet so much," said Gail Daly, director of the Clinical Ethics Center at Oakwood Hospital and Medical Center. "So we arranged for her dog to visit. It was a wonderful thing."

The suburban Detroit hospital last year conducted a test program allowing patients to be visited by their dogs and cats.

The program has been expanded to Oakwood Healthcare System's four hospitals, and will run until April 2005.

The visits are meant to make patients feel at home with the comfort of their dog or cat at their side. Oakwood staffers say pets have proven medical benefits for patients, including decreasing blood pressure, anxiety and pain.

"We look for reaction on the patient, and we've seen a patient cry -- happily crying," Rustom said. "You can see the vital signs have been improved."

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