Program Description

Every acute healthcare facility in New York City – in the country – is challenged with the issue of solving one of the patient’s most important personal problems: many people have no one to help care for their animals when they are sick or hospitalized. Some will refuse hospital admittance because “there is no one to take care of my pet.” For some, a hospital stay of some length increases anxiety about their ability to continue to provide for their animals’ welfare. Some simply do not have the infrastructure of friends or family to help; others have financial problems.

The Not Home Alone Project brings patient pet care programs to a broader spectrum of hospitals (initially in New York City) by rolling out the model successfully developed at St. Vincent’s Hospital Manhattan. A patient pet care program would facilitate and, in special circumstances, fund temporary care of the animal companions of patients and prospective patients whose own resources of friends, family or finances may have diminished.

No pets are kept in the hospital; rather, the goal is to take care of them in their own apartments. This caretaking is done by the program coordinator and/or volunteers and as needed, third-party professional pet care providers. When required, veterinary care, fostering and boarding are other components of the program, and pet care programs work closely with animal welfare organizations as well.

The Not Home Alone director works with interested hospitals on implementing their own patient pet care programs, and adapting the model to their individual situations. Hospitals can address issues facing patients with pets thoughtfully, cost-effectively and in a manner that emphasizes strict adherence to patient confidentiality and risk management concerns. Patient pet care programs can be tailored to minimize recourse to a hospital’s financial and administrative resources, and there are protocols and documentation ready.

The New York State Bar Association has made template documents available on its website www.nysba.org/PatientPetCare in cooperation with Not Home Alone and St. Vincent’s Hospital Manhattan.