Health | Uplifting | Family | Animals

Children's Hospital "Hires" A Full-Time Therapy Dog

The Penn State Children's Hospital in Hershey, Pennsylvania, knows that hospitals can be a scary place for kids. To help soothe the anxiety that children face when it comes to tests and scans, they have finally brought in a staff member that can help: A dog named Kaia.

Kaia is a 20-month-old lab/retriever mix that helps teach children how to lie still and remain calm. The radiologists enjoy having the dog around, and love how much she's helped.

"It's really filled a void, and it's really, really helped patient care." - Michael Hulse, pediatric radiologist

Ashley Kane, the Child Life Program Manager at the hospital, suggested the idea. She knew that children needed something comforting when they were in such an unfamiliar situation.

"When it comes down to it, we are still strangers. We're strange faces, and they don't know us, and they can't trust us right away," - Ashley Kane

Having Kaia be present in these situations helps children tremendously. The radiologist became emotional when he described the moment that Kaia proved herself by assisting a crying child. He said the child was terrified of taking a CT scan, but after Kaia arrived she stopped crying and braved the scan.

"The child became less anxious, less scared, and it was really a beautiful thing to see." - Michael Hulse

Kane and Hulse both hope that more hospitals bring on canine assistants to help kids all over the country remain calm when in a hospital setting. Currently only 30 children's hospitals "employ" service dogs full-time, but here's to hoping that more jump on board!

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