Stress Relief for Healthcare Workers at Memorial Hospital Comes with a Cold Nose and a Warm Heart

June 3, 2020 Providence News Team

Jordy, a facility dog at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, is providing therapeutic support to caregivers who have been working around the clock at the hospital to prepare for a potential surge due to COVID-19.

Nonprofit organization Canine Companions for Independence® provided Jordy, a lab/golden retriever cross, free of charge. Facility Dog Jordy recently graduated from the organization’s assistance dog training program, to work in the hospital visiting patients. Jordy graduated with Kathy Bellino, RN, who is her handler when she is working at the hospital. Now, she’s lending a paw to support, motivate and interact with the hospital’s caregivers during this highly stressful period.

“The science confirms what we already know, pets provide comfort and support during hard times,” said Jessica Lacanlale, MSN, Trauma Program Manager at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. “The stress of caring for patients and working long hours is intense; but spending a little time with Jordy lifts my spirits and helps me get through the long days.”

Jordy started her tenure at the hospital in February by visiting pediatric and trauma patients and was just getting into a groove when the pandemic began. As a safety precaution to prevent the risk of spreading COVID-19, the hospital implemented visitor restrictions, as recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Governor of California. While these restrictions precluded Jordy from visiting patients within the hospital, Jordy was redeployed to provide some stress relief to the caregivers and doctors who are on the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak.

“Jordy is a big favorite with our patients, and we wanted our caregivers to be able to experience the benefits of canine companionship during this highly stressful time,” said Vicki White, Chief Nursing Officer. “Dogs have a miraculous healing power on people. They help lower stress hormones, bring down blood pressure, and help us take a break from our immediate problems. Jordy is helping our hospital staff do all of that.”

Jordy was expertly trained in 40 commands to help calm patients going through procedures and motivate patients to reach their goals. Jordy calmly and effectively interacts with patients and staff in the busy, and sometimes stressful hospital environment

Founded in 1975 in Santa Rosa, CA, Canine Companions for Independence is a nonprofit organization that provides expertly-trained assistance dogs to adults, children and veterans free of charge. Canine Companions trains assistance dogs that open new possibilities and increase independence for people with disabilities.

PICTURED: Facility Dog Handler Kathy Bellino, RN, with nurses Lee Ann Pinnelli, Leah Di Jorio, Shienne Anderson, Rachel Harika and seated with Jordy is Dr. Ray Lejano.

PICTURED: Registered Nurses Gina Colombatto, Kathy Bellino and Jen Lovrin

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