Anne Rigolet has multiple sclerosis. This disease reduces her muscle strength and prevents her from moving as she would like. She therefore acquired an assistance dog. These dogs, trained for many months, are used to restore autonomy and courage to people with disabilities.
Anne and Kama, her golden retriever, never leave each other. The female dog provides her mistress with confidence and autonomy. As Anne Rigolet explains. “Before I had Kama people laughed at me. Today, the gaze of these people is on Kama who picks up my rods, who can pick up an object on a table and bring it to me, it’s an indescribable help”.
This precious help, Anne had to do without it for a visit to Mont-Godinne where she was going for an infusion.
Anne Rigolet: “My neurologist called me saying that the hospital management had said that we could not take an assistance dog and that this visit would be done without Kama”.
According to a Walloon decree, access to assistance dogs cannot be prohibited in public places, including hospitals.
Why this decision on the part of the Mont-Godinne site?
Vincent Lachapelle (hospital director): “It is true that there is a decree that obliges us to accept assistance dogs, in certain cases. It is clear that in this decree there are also services where the hospital can decide not to accept that the patient is accompanied by an assistance dog.In particular in hematology and oncology departments.The medical day hospital on the Godinne site is a hospital where 95% of patients are treated for these problems. These are patients who are immunocompromised and it is in these cases that we absolutely want to secure patients who are being treated for oncological and/or hematological problems”.
It is therefore a choice driven by reasons of hygiene and by a certain interpretation of the decree. But Anne Rigolet does not understand this decision: “Kama you can’t touch her or caress her. You should know that she is vaccinated and dewormed. In terms of disease, she is no more contagious than the shoes or the coat of Mr. and Mrs. Everybody”.
The hospital, however, claims to regret the event and seek organizational solutions so that it does not happen again.