Rock Springs, Wyoming — Before bringing your pet to Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, there are some guidelines that must be followed.
The hospital has had a policy concerning pets for many years, but it was found to be somewhat vague. Sweetwater Memorial has updated its policy, which lists a variety of guidelines.
“We understand the important role our pets play in our well-being,” said Chief Nursing Officer Kristy Nielson. “To ensure the safety and well-being of all of our patients, the policy is now more direct.”
“We recognize that there may be circumstances where there is a compassionate need to bring in a patient’s pet for a visit,” she said. “That can be arranged on a case-by-case basis.”
Pets are allowed to visit, but with some parameters, said Laurie Leder, an interim infection preventionist at MHSC. Several steps must be taken to accommodate such a visit, including but not limited to consulting with the unit manager or infection preventionist, a written order from the patient’s physician, letting the front desk know when the pet will arrive, and more.
The only animals allowed without prior notice are service animals, Leder said.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 provides for the accommodation of service animals in public places. In Wyoming, dogs and miniature horses are considered service animals.
Emotional support animals are not the same as service dogs. Service animals perform very specific tasks for their handlers related to their disability, such as a vision guide, hearing alert, seizure alert, remind to take medication, protect from self-destruction behaviors, allergen alert, and PTSD management.
If an animal is misrepresented as a service animal and is not behaving like a service animal, MHSC staff can ask that the animal be removed, Leder said.
Plus, there are areas of the hospital and clinics where service animals are not allowed. Some of those critical areas are the operating rooms, sterile processing, any food prep areas, laundry, the pharmacy, the laboratories, the dialysis clinic, birthing areas, or in oncology.
If you know you’re going to be in the hospital for a length of time, make arrangements for your pet before you schedule a surgery or doctor’s appointment, Leder said. In the event of an emergency, the hospital staff will do everything it can to make sure the patient’s pet or service animal is taken care of.
There also are types of pets that may not visit MHSC at any time, such as reptiles, rodents, birds, ferrets or any wild animal that has been “domesticated.”
“We must keep a clean and safe environment for our patients and staff,” Leder said.
If you have questions or want to learn more about Sweetwater Memorial’s policy on animals in the hospital, call MHSC Infection Prevention at 307-352-8561.
MHSC is a non-profit, 99-bed, regional acute-care facility in southwestern Wyoming. The hospital has more than 500 employees, including more than 30 employed physicians providing care in more than two dozen specialty fields. It also offers cardiology, vascular and maternal-fetal medicine services through its affiliation with University of Utah Health. Sweetwater Regional Cancer Center is an affiliate partner of the University of Utah’s Huntsman Cancer Institute.
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