Generous Donation Expands Pet Therapy at JFK University Medical Center   

Generous Donation Expands Pet Therapy at JFK University Medical Center

Group of nurses and team members at JFK University Medical Center standing around a pet therapy dog.

June 08, 2023

Thanks to the generosity of the Nandansons Foundation, pet therapy is expanding at JFK University Medical Center, and it’s hard to tell who is more excited—patients or team members.

“Patients react quite well, but I have seen nurses sit on the floor and cry and hug the dog,” says Mary Beth Cunningham, co-president of the Auxiliary of JFK University Medical Center Foundation

Hospital pet therapy, also known as animal-assisted therapy, involves trained animals visiting patients in the hospital to provide comfort and support. “This type of therapy has been shown to have many benefits for patients, including reducing stress and anxiety, improving mood, increasing socialization, and providing a sense of companionship,” says Ankit Gupta, whose family started the Nandansons Foundation in Edison.

For nearly a year, Creature Comfort Pet Therapy has brought trained therapy dogs—and on special occasions rabbits and miniature horses—to JFK. The program has been a hit, expanding from two days a week to three, with visits from “regulars” Niles, a black Lab, and Chace, a golden retriever.

Through his family’s foundation, Ankit has committed to providing the funds so that the pets and their handlers from the non-profit group based in Morris County can come to JFK every day for a year.

“The pet therapy program is particularly beneficial for patients who are recovering from surgery or illness, as well as those who are dealing with mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. It can also be helpful for patients who are experiencing chronic pain or who are undergoing chemotherapy or other intensive treatments,” Ankit says. “Through launching this program at JFK, it was interesting to learn that these pets also provide comfort and support to not only adult patients but also pediatric patients, visitors and team members.”

In the warmer months, Mary Beth says that JFK may also see visits from therapy goats and notes that philanthropy is crucial in helping expand this program and continue to enhance the hospital’s visits from these furry friends.

“The pet therapy program at JFK is such an incredible addition to the care that our patients receive. It provides emotional and social support in a meaningful way,” says Sheri Marino, MA, CCC-SLP, executive director of the JFK University Medical Center Foundation. “We are so grateful to the Nandansons Foundation for enabling us to continue and grow this program.” 

The gratitude is reciprocal. Adds Ankit: “The Nandansons Foundation is pleased with the positive impact this program has provided the community. We would like to express our deep gratitude for the endless effort of team members in creating and further developing this program.”

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