Our hospital pet therapy re-entry has begun, but I haven’t brought the Boys back in and they are not happy Doods…
My furlough ended late August and the department worked extremely hard to present a phased re-entry approach to upper management. The return of the volunteers officially started on the 15th of October. We were proud and pleased our first submission was unanimously approved.
HUMANS AND DOGS –
Our plan consists of a three phase approach, starting with a slow and cautious entrance – working side by side with hospital specialists like infection control and risk management.
While these subject matter experts can certainly provide the proper guidance for the areas in which the human volunteers would donate their time and talents – my primary focus was on the canine component.
There are so many benefits to working at a teaching hospital – especially when it’s the top Medical University in the State!
Finding unlimited access and guidance from the Department Chair of Veterinary Science immediately put me at ease.
Together we were able to create a phased re-entry for the pet therapy teams as well…
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE TRENDS –
Phase one allows the therapy dog teams visitation with two patients (nothing more) per shift. The sphere of safety minimizes and becomes compromised when you introduce too many “external” people into your circle. COVID “negative” patients are safe because they have limited exposure to others.
Proper PPE along with practiced safety measures will allow those limited visits to occur.
Prayerfully as the COVID trends for our area begin to decrease, the number of patients each therapy dog visits will increase. It’s all about the trends #nottalkingfashion…
DIFFERENT BUT PRESENT –
Even though we’re functioning a little differently, we are still present for the most part. I think the hardest rule in this first phase is asking our most loved and adored hospital humans – the nurses – to please refrain from gathering around and loving on the pups…
Due to the lack of concrete evidence about the transmittal of COVID involving the canine species, we are following the guidelines and recommendations from the experts –
Until we learn more about how this virus affects animals, treat pets as you would other human family members to protect them from a possible infection.
Because there is a risk that people with COVID-19 could spread the virus to animals, CDC recommends that pet owners limit their pet’s interaction with people outside their household.CDC
Nurses totally “get-it” and have been incredibly supportive. They, like everyone else in the hospital, are thrilled just to see the dogs return.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE –
It’s been a seven months absence for the volunteers. To ensure they are equipped with all the safety tools (knowledge) to operate safely during this pandemic, we are bringing them back in smaller groups to assist with the re-entry’s.
BC (Before COVID) we were 102 therapy dogs strong. That’s a great deal of tail wagging happiness covering an entire community.
I’ve had thirty pet therapy teams return, in the last 10 days, twenty one have already walked the hospital floors! We will resume training the beginning of November and every month thereafter.
The volunteers who’ve attended the re-entry training orientation tell me – they feel safe, informed and comfortable with all that we have shared with them. They understand the importance of every phase and some are super creative with it…
Others have gone all glitz and glamor to strut their stuff down the halls as if it’s a Couture Fashion Runway…
ONE PAW AT A TIME –
I too feel good about our plan. While there is still NO evidence that this virus can spread to people from the skin, fur, or hair of pets, we are fortunate to have knowledgeable and experienced veterinarians on campus. They provide me with specific documented information on how best to safely continue with canine therapeutic assistance to those who benefit the most – the patients!
As soon as the majority of the teams are back in rotation I will start bringing the boys back for 1/2 days.
It’s tough leaving in the morning and you have a Dood out the door before you, waiting for his leash so he can accompany you to work again…
Heartbreaking to say the least.
More to come on how NOT ready the boys are for their return to employment. #hotmessexpress
This too shall pass ❤️