Pets Allowed To Visit Critically Ill Children at New Wisconsin Hospital

A woman's life and her love for animals inspired her family to establish a pet-friendly children's hospital room in her memory.

Posted: August 3, 2007, 5 a.m. EDT

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Courtesy of American Family Children's Hospital.
Critically ill children at American Family Children’s Hospital will now be able to enjoy visits from their family pets, thanks to a donation made in honor of Laurie Meade.
Laurie Meade lost her lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis in 2004, but she leaves a legacy at American Family Children’s Hospital where critically ill children will soon have a place to visit their family pet during lengthy stays.

The “Laurie Meade Pet Visitation Room” will see its first patients when the hospital opens at the end of August, 2007. Meade bounced in and out of hospitals throughout her 32 years, but her health spiraled downward after complications from a lung transplant. Three weeks before her death, her brother hatched a plan to lift her spirits and brought her dog (Beck) to the hospital.

“It brought tears to her eyes immediately,” said Kitty Ricciardelli, Meade’s mother. “The staff did what they could to get her outside and she was able to hold Beck for a few minutes. It was the best thing for her.”

The pet visitation room was the brainchild of Meade’s husband. After she passed away, money raised in her honor was donated to the hospital to have the room bear her name.

“The intent (of the room) is that it’s primarily for children who have a terminal condition or who are not going home for a long time,” said Michael Felber, hospital spokesman. “If you walk to the room today, it looks like a consultation room with a framed picture of Laurie’s story.”

He added that the room has a specially-designed, non-carpeted floor that is conducive to animal visits.

“I think [Laurie] would be extremely happy with what we did with the money raised in her honor,” Ricciardelli said. “She spent a lot of time in hospitals growing up and her pets were very important to her.”

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Reader Comments

Cathy    Hubbard, OH

11/1/2007 5:25:07 AM

I think this is a GREAT tribute to their loss and also think pets help a great deal when you are very sick. I wish more hospitals would have rooms like this for people of all ages. God Bless this family in their loss and in Laurie's brother creating such a wonderful tribute to her.

Sheryl    Casa Grande, AZ

8/3/2007 8:17:13 PM

What a wonderful idea! All hospitals should have such a room!

Sara    Atlanta, GA

8/3/2007 7:55:08 PM

What a wonderful legacy!

Debby    San Diego, CA

8/3/2007 7:16:24 PM

This is a wonderful idea to have a pet visitation room. I had a therapy dog at one time and we were restricted at certain facilities as to where we could go. He really raised alot of spirits!

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