Pet Therapy Building Helps Heal Children of Cincinnati

CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Children’s Hospital opened a specialized building to promote the facility’s pet therapy program — a first of its kind in the U.S.

Designed by locally based GBBN Architects, the 250-square-foot, three-sided building creates a dedicated space for family pets to come visit their beloved young owners while at the hospital. Currently, cats and dogs are able to visit children whose stays are longer than five days.

“This is extremely new to the hospital world,” said Aaron Anderson, LEED AP, senior associate at GBBN, in a statement. “We wanted a simple shelter with a prefab system for quality control and cost. My research led us to Duo-Gard.”

Duo-Gard Industries of Canton, Mich., fabricated the new shelter, which opened in September 2013. The building was a new endeavor for the company.

“Although we produce many special purpose structures, this is our first to directly affect the lives of suffering children,” said Michael Arvidson, executive vice president of Duo-Gard, in a statement. “Our team is very proud to be a collaborator in this effort that brings joy, hope and healing to kids facing long hospital stays.”

One major challenge in bringing the pet therapy building to fruition was integrating the center into the medical campus without creating any safety or code issues.

Located in a former concrete courtyard, the building was designed with glass walls and a bright blue metal roof of aluminum composite to match the hospital’s architectural language. A large, brightly colored orange paw is stamped on one wall and the remaining walls feature patterns similar to tree branches to evoke a connection to the outdoors. An LED lighting system is placed randomly through the building to create an image like a star-filled sky.

The hospital’s pet therapy program has gained attention from other health care facilities and the children’s hospital is developing a research program to demonstrate the benefits of the center.

“We want to help educate others. This really improves the lives of the patients and their families and helps relieve the suffering and separation of long-term hospitalization,” Anderson said. “It puts a smile on the children’s faces.”

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