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Patients in the emergency room at Baylor Scott & White McLane Children’s Hospital are often greeted with a smile – and sometimes with a wagging tail.
Temple Hospital has expanded its Pawsitive Pals program with the arrival of Gigi, a certified therapy dog from Canine Companions. Gigi joins Lorenzo, who has been greeted with hugs and compassionate cuddles by patients and staff for the past three years.
According to handlers Laura Ingram and Rebecca Holmstrom, the latest addition to McLane’s Pawsitive Pals team is thrilled with the attention she’s getting.
“She definitely gets excited visiting patients,” Ingram said. “She greets her with a prankster and she enjoys what she’s doing.”
Gigi and Lorenzo provide therapeutic support and a sense of security to young pediatric patients in the hospital emergency department.
“Rebecca and I are very grateful that Gigi is the newest addition to our team as we know it will reassure our most vulnerable patients,” said Ingram. “The children light up when they see them – it helps them feel more comfortable. Hospitals can be scary for children. “
“In addition to being a great tool for compassionate patient care, Gigi is a refreshing source of therapy for our trauma and emergency staff,” she said.
Ingram said Gigi and Lorenzo are working full-time shifts at McLane.
“You work 40 hour weeks,” she said.
At the end of the day, Gigi goes home with Ingram to relax.
Since 1975, Canine Companions has bred, raised, and trained service dogs to help people with disabilities and inspire customers with special needs.
Gigi reacts to 40 commands and can pull toy cars, close drawers and retrieve objects. She has special commands that allow her to interact calmly with pediatric patients and their families.
The children’s hospital treats around 30,000 patients in its emergency department and has more than 3,000 outpatient visits each year. With the recent enlargement, these numbers have increased.
Gigi is used to meet the physical and psychological needs of patients, patient families and medical staff for health and recovery processes.
“Thanks to our three-year partnership with Canine Companions, both patients and staff have benefited from the therapeutic cuddles offered by our Pawsitive Pals program,” said Dr. Dominic Lucia, Chief Medical Officer of McLane’s Children’s Medical Center.