What makes us feel better?
A friendly dog, based on the experiences of patients and staff at Falmouth Hospital, JML Care Center in Falmouth and Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis.
You’ve heard about doctors on call. Now Cape Cod Healthcare, the umbrella organization for the three care-giving operations, has introduced “Dogs On Call” at the hospitals and the care center.
Dogs On Call is a pet therapy program worked out in conjunction with the Companion Animal Program in Hyannis, which provided a 12-week training class to certify the dogs and their handlers for working in busy hospital settings.
“Studies have shown the invaluable impact the human-animal bond can have on an individual’s health,” according to the program’s brochure. “Therapy dog visits have been shown to have a positive effect on patients’ pain levels and increase satisfaction with their hospital stay.”
Patients aren’t the only ones who welcome the dogs’ in-room visits. In the words of Christina Peaslee, Cape Cod Healthcare’s executive director of marketing communications, pretty much everyone else at the hospitals and care center—family members, friends and other visitors to patients, as well as physicians, nurses and other staff—welcome the arrival of the dogs.
“Many nurses have asked to switch their shifts to Wednesday, when the dogs come to the [Falmouth] hospital,” Ms. Peaslee said. “It’s the highlight of everyone’s day. Patients’ faces light up, and people want to take photos with the dogs. They’re celebrities.”
Jessica Gelatt, a patient experience specialist for Cape Cod Healthcare, echoes those thoughts.
“The dogs bring so much joy,” Ms. Gelatt said. “They’re like a bright spot of sunshine for the patients and the staff. There is definitely a ‘pre-dog’ mood and a brighter ‘post-dog’ mood.’”
Western medicine is among the crowning achievements of the modern world. The continuing compilation of intricate knowledge about the human body—and the effective training of medical professionals to make use of that knowledge as healers—has enabled Western medicine to make a remarkable difference in the effective treatment of patients.
But we are more than a collection of veins and arteries, muscle and bone, external and internal organs. Our moods and thoughts, studies have found, can have a direct effect on our physical well-being, and especially any needed physical recovery.
As the years and decades go on, Western medicine, to its credit, has become more open to therapeutic remedies that range outside calibrated science.
So hats off to the dogs on call, to the trained volunteers who graciously bring them in to visit patients, and to Cape Cod Healthcare for going beyond standard medical approaches and treatments.
Healing is the ultimate goal: If a friendly dog can help accomplish that mission, so much the better.