Grady Health System adds animal-assisted therapy to its patient care

Honey Duke and Peaches were among the first set of therapy dogs to visit Grady patients and staff as part of the Dog Therapy Program. (PRNewsfoto/Grady Health System)

Honey Duke and Peaches were among the first set of therapy dogs to visit Grady patients and staff as part of the Dog Therapy Program. (PRNewsfoto/Grady Health Syst

Hospitalized patients in the Grady Health System can now get a helping paw from certified therapy dogs in the Grady Dog Therapy Program. Research has shown this type of interaction can substantially ease patients’ physical and emotional pain.

Grady is committed to putting patients first, and a positive patient experience goes beyond providing excellent clinical care. Our dogs help patients heal,” said Chief Experience Officer, Lindsay Caulfield.

Grady’s centers of excellence — including Trauma, Burn, Stroke and Neuroscience and Cardiac — care for many critically ill or injured patients. Since the launch of the program, visits from the dogs have provided comfort, and in many instances encouraged patients to become engaged in their recovery.”

Former patient Jaylen Richardson stayed in Grady’s Burn Center for more than a year, after a near-fatal motorcycle accident in August 2016 caused third degree burns, and led to 34 surgeries, an induced coma, and the loss of his left forearm.

“I was depressed. I refused to work with the doctors and nurses to rehabilitate myself, I just wanted to stay in my bed. But then one day Honey Duke and Peaches came into my room, and something came alive in me. I focused on them, and my pain went out the window,” Richardson said.

This profound transformation in Richardson and hundreds of other patients like him has made the Dog Therapy Program a staple in how Grady delivers care, Caulfield said.

“It’s not only the patient who reaps the benefits from this program, family members and staff who visit with our dogs say they feel better too. We’re adding more therapy dogs to the line-up so we can reach even more patients and staff with this comforting program.”

All dogs involved are certified through Pet Partners or Happy Tails. For more information about Grady’s Dog Therapy Program, head to https://www.gradyhealth.org/grady-furlunteer/ or call the Patient Family experience office at (404) 616-3500.

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