Friday, October 19 , 2018, 10:31 pm | Fair 60º


Cottage Children’s Medical Center Introduces Virtual Zoo Animal Visits for Patients

A patient at Cottage Children’s Medical Center watches the San Diego Zoo Kids channel, which includes programming that provides positive stories for hospitalized children and their families. Click to view larger
A patient at Cottage Children’s Medical Center watches the San Diego Zoo Kids channel, which includes programming that provides positive stories for hospitalized children and their families. (Cottage Health photo)

Cottage Children’s Medical Center recently introduced zoo animal “visits” to pediatric patient rooms with the addition of the San Diego Zoo Kids channel on the hospital television system. Cottage is able to offer this new channel with generous support from the Santa Barbara Zoo. 

The channel combines video content from the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park and other zoos. Programs include live animal cam footage, zoo keeper and scientist interviews and short, kid-friendly stories about wild animals in their natural habitat.

All of the channel’s content is focused on providing positive stories that children and their parents can enjoy during a stay in the hospital. 

More than 30 pediatric facilities nationwide, including some of the largest children’s hospitals in California, currently air the channel. With the addition of Cottage Children’s Medical Center to the roster, the channel will soon include video content and interviews from the Santa Barbara Zoo. 

“This is exciting because it takes absolutely wonderful stories from zoos and makes them available to children who need a positive diversion,” said Rich Block, CEO of Santa Barbara Zoo.

Children who are hospitalized face many physical and emotional challenges. Research has shown that having a connection with animals, both live and virtual, can help to calm pediatric patients and to help alleviate the stress and pain related to being hospitalized. 

Those who have pets or who spend any time with animals understand the joy that they can bring. The deep-rooted connection between humans and animals is widely evident and documented.

Growing research and evidence shows that having a connection with animals helps individuals heal faster. That’s why many children’s hospitals have pet therapy teams (often dogs and handlers) who visit patients on a regular basis.

Cottage Health provides pet-assisted therapy at all of its hospitals, including Cottage Children’s Medical Center. 

“It has been so much fun talking to the patients about the channel, what they liked and what they learned from watching,” said Jaynie Wood, child life specialist at Cottage Children’s Medical Center. “One little girl decided that she wanted a new pet — a lion!” 

Allen Technologies, which currently provides Cottage Health with patient TV services, was instrumental in bringing the channel to the patient rooms.

Maria Zate is the manager of public relations for Cottage Health.


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