As dog lovers, we understand how much of a difference a dog can make to someone in pain – both physically and emotionally. So we just love it when we see those in the healthcare industries who realize it too! Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center recently welcomed two facility dogs to the Division of Child Life and Integrative Care.
The Division of Child Life and Integrative Care at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital works with inpatients and visiting patients to offer family-centered and holistic care. Child Life specialists are committed to promoting play and providing age-appropriate educational, developmental and psychological support. The golden retrievers, Drummer and Leica, provide physical and emotional support to patients as part of the Animal Assisted Therapy program.
Drummer and Leica are specially bred and trained to work as therapy dogs in a hospital setting. The hospital received the dogs from Canine Assistants, a nonprofit in Milton, GA, that breeds and trains service dogs and has worked with five other pediatric hospitals across the country.
Unlike volunteer dogs that visit the medical center, the facility dogs will be at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital every day with their handlers in the Division of Child Life and Integrative Care and will have access to clinics and inpatient units.
“Drummer comes to work with me every single day. He stays with me throughout the day, and comes home with me at night. And when it’s time for him to retire, he’ll stay with me too,” said Ashley Fiffick, Josh Cares child life specialist, Child Life and Integrative Care.
In the short time Drummer and Leica have been at the hospital, they have already made significant impacts on patients.
“She was out of it, not happy, and in a lot of pain,” said Leanne Biondo of her daughter Gia, who was an inpatient for five months. “A few minutes later, Drummer came in and her eyes lit up when he jumped on the bed. Suddenly, that pain was forgotten about. Gia is like a whole new person when Drummer walks in.”
The dogs can physically interact with patients to provide comfort and love in ways that medical caregivers and therapists cannot. Research shows that dog assisted therapy can lower stress and anxiety levels, affect blood pressure, increase patient mobility, and provide an alternative focus from pain.
Watch their full video below to learn more about Dummer and Leica and this amazing program:
“My vision is that this is the beginning,” said Sharon McLeod, senior clinical director, Child Life and Integrative Care. “Our dream is that it will grow and we will have more members of our hospital staff that will have beautiful, wagging tails.”