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BC Children’s Hospital launches pet therapy program tailor-made for health-care staff

Foundation CEO: staff adapt to evolving pandemic to maintain ‘excellent care’ for children

The BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver announced a pet therapy program for its health-care workers on Wednesday (Aug. 24).

The pet therapy program aims to provide hospital staff with a healthy and peaceful environment during their breaks and monthly wellness events with the help of St. John’s Ambulance and BC Pets and Friends-certified therapy animals and human volunteers, according to the hospital’s statement.

The pandemic put significant strain on the healthcare system and health-care professionals who work in pediatric care also felt this stress. BC Children’s Hospital treats children with some of the most serious illnesses and injuries in the province.

The hospital’s health-care staff rose to the occasion over the past two-and-a-half years by continuing to provide excellent care, BC Children’s Hospital Foundation CEO Malcolm Berry said in a statement.

The pet therapy program was specifically designed by PetSmart Charities of Canada to meet the needs of health-care pro. The program hopes to help reduce stress, but also boost health-care staff’s energy and self-esteem, a program coordinator said in the hospital’s statement.

Along with the announcement, pet therapy animals spent some time with health-care staff on Wednesday.

“When the Pet Therapy dogs greet me during my workday, I immediately feel my shoulders relax and I can’t help but smile,” BC Children’s Hospital clinical resource nurse Kelsey McCormick said.

“After visiting with the therapy dogs, I feel calmer and more equipped to deal with the tasks at hand. I become more patient, my thinking becomes clearer, and I feel like I am a better communicator.”

It is important to offer proactive stress-relieving tools for health-care workers to engage in, so PetSmart Charities of Canada is excited to work with the hospital to implement the program, grant director Kate Atema said. Animals can reduce depression, anxiety and other work-related mental health problems, Atema added.

The new pet therapy program tailored for health-care staff at BC Children’s Hospital hopes to help health-care professionals manage their stress levels. (Photo: BC Children’s Hospital).
The new pet therapy program tailored for health-care staff at BC Children’s Hospital hopes to help health-care professionals manage their stress levels. (Photo: BC Children’s Hospital).


About the Author: Morgana Adby, Local Journalism Initiative

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