NAGS HEAD, N.C.—A simple smile, a laugh, a chuckle at a child making a funny fish face in the reflection of the glass to mimic those in the water. A distraction from the obvious and a step outside of the real reason you may be at the hospital. That’s all part of a new approach The Outer Banks Hospital, with the help of its Patient Experience Team, is taking with a new addition to its lobby—a 75 gallon freshwater aquarium.

Research has shown that watching fish can ease stress levels, so the hospital’s Patient Experience Team set out to provide an aquarium in the hospital lobby to entertain the patients and make their visit more relaxing—more tranquil. And a local company stepped in to help in a big way. Pet Gallery, located in Kill Devil Hills, donated the aquarium to the hospital in late November and has agreed to maintain it as part of their donation.

“When we learned that the hospital was looking for an aquarium, we knew we wanted to step in and support the community in this way,” said Jodie Futch, Owner of the Pet Gallery. “And we knew the tank would give patients something to do besides think about the reason they are actually at the hospital. Not to mention, the tank is a great source of entertainment for children because they are fascinated by fish,” added Futch.

The freshwater aquarium is stocked with a variety of small African Cichlids, as well as larger Parrot Fish. There are also catfish and algae eaters. All of the fish are colorful and bright.

“The addition to our lobby and the fish have generated such a positive response from the community and I’m really pleased that the Pet Gallery was able to provide this as a service to our hospital and community,” said Van Smith, Jr., President of The Outer Banks Hospital.

Photo note: From left to right: Karen Ciero, Director of Labor and Delivery at The Outer Banks Hospital and Patient Experience Team representative; Jodie Futch, Owner, Pet Gallery; and Van Smith, President of The Outer Banks Hospital.