Bugle and McCoy recently joined the Paws4Patients team.
Michigan Medicine recently added eight new Furry Paws to its staff list. Bugle and McCoy, who are brothers, joined the Paws4Patients program in June and August, respectively. Bugle is part of the Social Work / Nursing Management departments at the University Hospital. He supports patients in the No One Dies Alone and Elder Life programs, as well as in the adult emergency room. McCoy works with his caregivers in adult psychiatry and emergency psychiatric services.
Bugle and McCoy join their four-legged colleagues Anna, who works in Spiritual Care, Bindi, who works in the Mott Wards and Family Center, and Fawn, who works in pediatric palliative care.
“The reaction to the new dogs as well as to our veteran puppies was overwhelmingly positive. The adult psychiatry section even threw a new puppy shower when McCoy arrived, ”said Lindsay Heering, director of Child Life, whose division now manages the Paws4Patients program.
She emphasized that the dogs are just as important to the employees as they are to the patients: “Since everyone is faced with fatigue and stress during this pandemic, it was so helpful to give our employees a little moral boost. The dogs change the energy in the room. “
Well trained helpers
All dogs in the facility come from Canine Assistants, a Georgia nonprofit.
Dog handlers are on campus with the dogs at all times.
“The puppies and their handlers receive excellent training before they arrive at the hospital to ensure that they fit perfectly,” said Heering.
Facility dogs are not allowed in isolation rooms, and dog handlers check for patient / family / staff fears, allergies, and interest in visiting prior to interaction. In addition, the program uses a mobile dog groomer who comes to the hospital weekly to bathe and groom all puppies. They are kept very clean and safe to interact with patients, families, and staff.
All costs for the procurement of the dogs and the maintenance of their health and well-being are supported by various donation funds.
“Our facility dogs work 40 hours a week providing clinical interventions and supporting therapeutic treatment goals with their handlers,” said Heering. “Your work is not intended for social visits or for patients who just want to see a dog.”
Each caregiver also has a full-time position and must assess, prioritize and care for patients in their clinical roles as pastors, social workers, child specialists, doctors and nurses.
Other furry friends on campus
While Therapaws is currently on hold due to the pandemic, it is Michigan Medicine’s Animal Therapy Volunteer Program that provides animal therapy consultations for patients who are not being cared for by the Paws4Patients pups. This program is administered by volunteer services and will resume when volunteers return to campus.
Leo is another four-legged colleague you might see at Michigan Medicine. He is a security dog who works with Officer Paul Meyers and DPSS.
Finally, many patients also have service animals to support their specific needs. Please note that these are workhorses and are not intended to meet with teachers, staff, or other patients.
For more information about the Michigan Medicine’s Companion Animal Policy, click here.