Dogs Join the Staff of Local Hospital


Companion dog at Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital - Plano | Image by Baylor Scott & White/NBC DFW

Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital – Plano is one of the first hospitals in Texas to utilize full-time companion dogs on its staff, reported NBC DFW.

Kahlua and Frenchie are golden-lab mix dogs that offer a kind of care that medicine cannot provide. The dogs, who are cousins, were trained by Canine Companions, a national organization that has provided more than 5,000 service dogs to people with disabilities, according to its website.

“Unbiased, unconditional care and affection 100% of the time,” Jamile Ashmore, the director of medical psychology at the Plano hospital, told NBC DFW. “They bring a sense of non-judgmental ease to the patients, as well as our physicians and our staff.”

“It lights up the room,” Ashmore said. “It almost melts away the stress for a few minutes.”

On top of the dogs’ patient care, they also serve as a way for staff to relieve stress and prevent burnout, giving the staff a bit of a break from their inherently stressful jobs.

The burnout rate for physicians jumped from 38% in 2020 to 63% in 2021, according to the American Medical Association. The numbers are similar for nurses, according to the American Nurses Association, with the burnout rate nearly doubling since the pandemic. In 2019, “burnout” was added by the World Health Organization to its classification of diseases.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), interacting with animals has been shown to decrease a stress-related hormone called cortisol, boost mood, reduce loneliness, and increase feelings of social support.

“There’s not one answer about how a pet can help somebody with a specific condition,” Dr. Layla Esposito, who oversees NIH’s Human-Animal Interaction Research Program, said in a 2018 news release.

“Is your goal to increase physical activity? Then you might benefit from owning a dog. You have to walk a dog several times a day and you’re going to increase physical activity. If your goal is reducing stress, sometimes watching fish swim can result in a feeling of calmness. So, there’s no one type fits all.”

Last year, dogs dressed in pajamas visited a children’s hospital in Houston for canine therapy, according to NBC 2 in Houston.

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2 months ago

So we can let dogs wander around hospitals licking literally everything, spreading who knows what, but I need to be vaxxed and triple-masked to see my dying relatives. Got it. Science!

Debby M
Debby M
Reply to  Lambo
2 months ago

Lambo, you need to research how a dog’s mouth can be healing. Remember they are not humans, so they are different. Also, they don’t complain about things they don’t know anything about!