Sometimes the most effective comfort comes from man's best friend.
Rush University Medical Center took that to heart, adopting a formal policy that allows pets to visit certain patients in their rooms. The hospital became the first facility in the area to officially set such rules in December.
Rush began researching requests for animal visitors in 2010, and in the end, officials decided the reward was worth the risk.
The hospital issued a 21-point list of rules outlining animal visits. Dogs and cats are the only pets allowed, for example, and any messes must be cleaned and sanitized by the handler. Before pets are allowed through the door, the doctor and of course patient must consent to the visit.
Pets must have proof of rabies vaccination and must be groomed and bathed before visiting. They aren't allowed to visit any rooms other than that of the pre-approved patient.
Bernadette Slesinski-Evans and her dachshund Sadie became the first patient to take advantage of the rules.