06/21/2013 02:49 pm ET

Chicago Hospital Has Pet Visiting Hours To Sooth Recovering Patients (VIDEO)

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Patients recovering at Chicago's Rush University Medical Center can now get a visit from their best friend — even if he or she has four legs.

Though the new policy to allow visiting hours for pets was approved in December, we were recently reminded of the good news when NBC Chicago broadcast a heartwarming story about patient Rocco Ruffolo who received a visit from his furry friend after "major abdominal surgery."

"I miss my dog. I'm not married, and I have no kids," Ruffolo told the station. A nurse later suggested to Ruffolo that his dog pay him a visit.

Rush is just one of 13 hospitals nationwide to have formalized pet visitation policies, according to NBC. Many hospitals allow visits from therapy animals, but not from patients' personal family pets.

Now, the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, the University of Iowa Hospital and Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond are among the other facilities to allow visits from four-legged friends, according to Mother Nature Network.

Rush's pet policy was nearly three years in the making, but started when nurses began to sneak pets in to see their terminally ill owners "one last time," according to NBC. The new policy follows a 21-point list of rules for animal visits, which are limited to well-groomed cats and dogs that have the necessary certifications and vaccinations.

The Tribune reports Bernadette Slesinski-Evans was to first patient at Rush to enjoy a visit from her pet when her dachshund came to visit as she was hospitalized in February.



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