Jessica and her dog Sierrah shared a special bond from the first time they met. The Lhasa Apso joined her family not long after Jessica’s cancer diagnosis in 2001. Sierrah immediately curled up next to Jessica, and their bond grew deeper throughout her eight relapses from cancer.
Away from home at Cincinnati Children’s for weeks at a time, Jessica longed to have her companion by her side. Sierrah served as her motivation to get home, but still, she wished her furry friend could visit.
Thanks to the generosity of CancerFree KIDS and Impact 100, Jessica’s dream to bring patients and their pets together at the hospital will come true this year.
CancerFree KIDS, based in Loveland, Ohio, donated the funds needed to build the first hospital-based pet visitation center in the nation at Cincinnati Children’s.
According to Ellen Flannery, founder and executive director of CancerFree KIDS, the pet center will serve as a model for similar facilities at other children’s hospitals. It will feature visitation bays that are wheelchair and hospital-bed accessible. Ellen is also hopeful that one day it will be a place where children without pets can schedule visits with animals.
Sharon Mitchell, president of Impact 100, called April’s groundbreaking “an amazing and joyous occasion.”
Jessica already knows what will happen when the center is open – more kids will get better sooner, thanks to help from their four-legged friends.