Service Animals

Hackensack Meridian Health is committed to providing individuals with disabilities full and equal access to services and treatment. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Hackensack Meridian Health welcomes the use of service animals by any person with a disability.

What is a service animal?

A service animal is any guide dog, signal dog or other animal that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a disabled person including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing or sounds, or assisting persons with mobility impairments with balance. Dogs that solely provide companionship, comfort, and emotional support are not service animals under the ADA.

Our hospitals and team members are very supportive of service animals. We understand the important, life-saving role that service animals play in our patients’ lives. While our goal is to keep patients and their service animals together whenever possible, there are situations where our team members must focus on providing the highest quality care for our patients.

We are committed to educating the public about the importance of putting a plan in place for the care and safety of service animals during a hospital visit, including identifying an emergency contact for the service animal in the event that the patient is unable to provide care. Please be aware of the following:

What should I do if I present to the hospital with my service dog?

We will make every effort to work with you to identify a friend or family member to care for your service animal. Our primary goal is to have care teams available to provide the highest quality care to all our patients. Therefore, we recommend you plan in advance to have a family member or friend available to care for the service animal. Our goal is to ensure your service animal has the adequate care needed while you are in the hospital and unable to care for your service animal. Maintaining an emergency contact for your service animal will also help the care team to best support your service animal’s needs without interrupting the care we want to provide to you.

Where is my service animal allowed in the hospital?

You may bring your service animal to any area of the hospital where the public is allowed. In an effort to promote and maintain a therapeutic environment for all our patients, we do ask that your service animal be cared for by someone and on a leash at all times.

In what situations am I prohibited from bringing my service animal to the hospital?

Hackensack Meridian Health’s top priority is the health and safety of our patients. You should not bring your service animal into the hospital if the animal is sick. The animal must be healthy, free of parasites and vaccinated against rabies. Team members may inquire about the animal’s health and request documentation from the individual, such as veterinary records. If there is any question as to the health of the animal, or if there is any evidence of infestation (i.e. scratching, matted fur, etc.), we ask that you do not bring the service animal to the hospital. In the event that the service animal presented with signs or symptoms of infestation, we will work with you to get your service animal to a friend or family member in an effort to maintain the health and safety of our patients.

While we are committed to keeping you and your service animal together whenever possible, there are situations where our team members must put your health and well-being first. Service animals are not permitted in:

  • The hospital if the service animal’s behavior or presence poses a threat to the health or well-being of patients and team members
  • The hospital if the service animal’s presence will interfere with hospital operations or will negatively impact patient care
  • In the room during diagnostic or therapeutic procedures
  • Operating rooms
  • Labor/delivery rooms
  • Isolation rooms
  • Areas which require sterile or controlled environments
  • If you are being admitted and are unable to provide the necessary care and supervision for your service animal

If you are unable to care for your animal due to any of the situations above, we encourage you to have a plan in place in advance for the care of your service animal, such as asking a friend or family member to watch your service animal during this time.

If I am being admitted into the hospital, is my service animal allowed with me?

If you are being admitted into the hospital and are unable to provide the necessary care and supervision for your service animal, we will work with you to identify a family member or friend who can provide the necessary care for the service animal. It is helpful to have an emergency plan in place in the event that you are unable to provide the necessary care

Does Hackensack Meridian Health support service animals?

Yes. Hackensack Meridian Health is very supportive of service animals. We understand the important, life-saving role that service animals play in our patients’ lives and that they are an integral part of our patients’ families. That is why we offer an animal-assisted therapy program that provides patients comfort and companionship in a way that increases emotional well-being and promotes healing for patients.

Contact us:

If you have questions or concerns, please email Patient Experience at Consumer.Services@hmhn.org.

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