Newport Hospital
Providing award-winning health care to patients on Aquidneck Island and beyond

Philanthropy News

The Power of a Wet Nose

There may be times when the last thing anyone wants is dog hair on their clothes, but one of them isn’t when Jane Regan and her Labradoodle, Willoughby, come around.

“It doesn’t matter where in the hospital he goes, Willoughby is instantly surrounded,” says Pamela McLaughlin, MS, LDN, Newport Hospital’s Director of Patient Experience. “In just seconds with him, you can see people’s anxiety leave their body.”

The Power of a Wet Nose
Jane Regan with Willoughby

Jane and Willoughby are veterans of Newport Hospital’s pet therapy program, having come aboard as volunteers in the fall of 2019 to visit with patients in the different units. By March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated all volunteer programs be suspended, and outside a brief return in 2021, the program did not resume fully until last August. When it did, it came back better than ever.

“Once we began again with pet therapy, it was so obvious that staff needed visits, too,” explains Pam, “so much so that Jane and Willoughby could not keep up with the demand.”

As fate would have it, and when the program needed it most, two local owners of registered therapy dogs reached out to Pam on getting their pups involved with the hospital: Celeste Catterall and her Aussiedoodle, Roxy, and Lynn St. George and her Pomeranian, Stella.

By September 2022, the pet therapy program effectively tripled its capacity.

Now with a pack of tail-wagging therapy dogs ready to bring smiles to faces, Pam set off to devise the program’s most comprehensive schedule yet. Planning eight weeks at a time, the dogs visit with patients throughout the Turner building, the cancer center, at Vanderbilt rehab, and the hospital’s award-winning birthing center. There are also scheduled sessions for the emergency department, behavioral health pod, surgical services, transport, the pharmacy, and diagnostic imaging. Simply, where there are people, the dogs will go.

“I don’t think I could have imagined the reactions we would get,” says Jane. “For patients and those on the frontline, their days can be difficult and we are a welcome distraction. Willoughby makes people very happy and those people also make him happy–it’s like having a friend in every room of the hospital.”

While there’s no shortage of anecdotal evidence for the positive effects of our canine friends, the science is equally convincing.

Research shows that just petting a dog lowers the stress hormone cortisol, while the social interaction itself can increase the amount of the feel-good hormone oxytocin–the same hormone known to bond mothers to their babies.

“Dogs have such a calming presence; when people are with one of the dogs, they aren’t thinking about anything else, and that’s incredibly powerful,” Pam finishes. “But make no mistake, their owners are so key to the program and in tune to our culture–we’re extremely fortunate to have these beautiful people share their companions with us.”

Newport Hospital Becomes First in the U.S. to Benefit from an Anouk Foundation Mural Project

Behavioral health patients at Newport Hospital will enjoy a more inviting environment thanks to a first-of-its kind art project. The hospital is the first United States institution to have the Anouk Foundation paint therapeutic murals on its walls. The Switzerland-based nonprofit works with a team of acclaimed artists who create specialized murals for facilities that include hospitals, homes for children, mental health centers, and migration centers. At Newport Hospital, 27 walls now adorn the foundation’s work, with a particular focus on enhancing behavioral health and emergency department space. The project was made possible by local donors’ gifts to the Anouk Foundation.

Anouk Foundation Mural
Guillaume Ozon, a professional painter with the Anouk Foundation and whose work is featured throughout Europe, works one of the 27 murals created at Newport Hospital.

More about the Anouk mural project

An outpouring of support

Newport Hospital Donations
Dozens of local businesses, community groups and individuals rally around Aquidneck Island’s only hospital with gifts of gratitude for frontline workers

Amid Crisis, Community’s Outpouring of Support Invigorates Newport Hospital

During the unprecedented health crisis that has turned our state, the country and world on its end, dozens of Aquidneck Island businesses, individuals and community groups have rallied around Newport Hospital, making significant in-kind donations to frontline workers and staff.

From breakfast pastries and coffee, to custom masks, hearty lunches, restaurant prepared dinners and special treats, the community’s outpouring of generosity has been on full display since March and continues daily.

“It is nothing short of amazing to witness the incredible ways our neighbors are supporting the staff of their hospital – Newport Hospital truly belongs to the community,” said Crista F. Durand, president of Newport Hospital. “All of us have been deeply affected by this pandemic, including those who have set aside their own challenges to make a difference for others. I know none of us will ever forget these acts of kindness”.

Just a few examples among the more than 1,000 meals (and counting) gifted to Newport Hospital staff are doughnuts from Liberty Donuts, artisan sandwiches by The Red Parrot, dinners from Midtown Oyster Bar and Fluke Newport, some 200 boxes of Girl Scout cookies, and 1,800 specialty dessert cups.

“What the selfless gestures bestowed upon our caregivers and staff have meant to all of us is something I don’t think could ever be expressed with words,” said Pam McLaughlin, Newport Hospital’s director of patient experience. “We exist to care for our community, and it is our community that cares for us.”

Generous in-kind donors to Newport Hospital, through April 24, include:

A1 Pizza, Anastasia, BedJet, Bagel Boys, Bodhi Spa, CRU Café, Domino’s Pizza, Dunkin’, Feeding the Front Line, Fluke Newport, French Confection, Girl Scouts, Guittard Chocolate Co., Hollywood Pizza, Hungry Monkey, IYRS School of Technology & Trades, Joe’s American Bistro, King Arthur Flour, Kitchen Companion Catering, Le Bec Sucre’, Liberty Donuts, Lobster Bar, Lois Vaughn Music, Ma’s Donuts, McDonald’s, McGrath Clambakes and Catering, Metropolitan Wealth Management, Midtown Oyster Bar, Newport Creamery, Newport Dental Associates, Nikolas Pizza, Norey’s, Papa Gino’s/D’Angelo, Pick Pocket Deli, Scratch Kitchen, Slim Possible, St. Michael’s School, Surf Club, The Black Pearl, The Clarke Family, The JAN Companies, The Landing Restaurant, The Red Parrot, Zelda’s Newport 

Newport Hospital celebrates ribbon cutting for transformed Emergency Department

Newport Hospital celebrated the expansion and renovation of its emergency department – and the naming of the unit as the John A. and Hope H. van Beuren Emergency Department – during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Aug. 14 that was attended by more than 100 people, including hospital leaders, community supporters and the philanthropic family whose van Beuren Charitable Foundation has been an extraordinary partner in the project.

The $12.5 million project, which is nearing completion, is almost doubling the number of treatment rooms from 17 to 29 beds, and increasing the overall footprint to over 20,000sq. ft. with a capacity to server 40,000+ patients annually. The completed project will realize a state of the art, patient inspired environment of care, to best meet the growing and evolving healthcare needs of Newport County. Key innovations include a dedicated Behavioral Health Pod, a dedicated Clinical Decision Unit for observation of patients, Results Lounge, and a tripling of the Triage Space, while ensuring the advancement and excellence of care. The entire Emergency Department expansion, main entrance, lounges and waiting areas, incorporate evidence-based design features, which support and advance excellence in healthcare delivery and the comfort and well-being of patients and their loved ones.

Newport Hospital Ribbon Cutting Ceremony


The last substantial renovation to the Emergency Department took place more than 20 years ago when the capacity of the space was deemed to be about 22,000 patient visits a year. An aging population and growth in tourism have swelled annual patient visits to 33,000 a year. This phenomenal demand sparked a community fundraising campaign that was so successful it allowed the hospital to break ground in the summer of 2018 on a remarkably ambitious overhaul of the unit. It’s estimated that the new space will accommodate more than 40,000 patient visits a year.

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