Director of Volunteer Services
Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital (HFWBH)/Henry Ford Health System
West Bloomfield, Michigan
"Sally and Bob Goldman Therapy Dog Program" (Therapy Dog Program): A program that has both hospital-owned and owner-owned dogs. Highlights of the program include:
Strategically, we realize that no two patients are alike. It is important that we have a compassionate and engaged team to provide each person with individualized care. Our program fits perfectly with this part of our strategic plan. We offer therapy dogs to patients and are often able to provide a specifically requested dog. When we survey staff, they overwhelmingly tell us that the dogs reduce stress, improve engagement, and help them have a more positive attitude. This results in more compassionate care provided by engaged employees.
The success of the program is not captured in satisfaction tools. However, in 2017, 54 volunteers gave 3,270 hours of service and visited over 54,580 patients/visitors/staff. The program provides HFWBH with a “competitive advantage”. Patients/visitors tell us they come for dog visits even if they don’t have any medical needs. Patients have changed their care to HFWBH because of the program’s existence and impact. The true measure of our program’s success is more qualitative. The priceless, unconditional love, care, and support the dogs provide is observed daily. A physician requested that we have one of our dogs come in to calm a patient who was in labor. She had been raped and part of her delivery plan was to have a dog present during early labor.
Often, families request dog visits during their loved one’s last hours. A particularly touching story was when one of our patients, a retired veterinarian, was non-verbal and actively dying. The daughter told her dad that a doggie angel had come to visit him. They put the man’s hands on the dog and he started petting the dog and said the word “dog”. This one word let the family know that their dad was still there. This brought so much joy to the family during a very difficult time. A nurse requested that one of our dogs go in a room where the medical team had been unable to calm a patient. The patient was having a psychiatric crisis. H was crying, hyperventilating, delusional, and had a rapid pulse. The volunteer told the patient he had a friend with him named Hope, and that she loved to be petted. The volunteer told the patient how gentle he was petting Hope and that she liked it. He turned the lights down and told the patient to put his head back on his pillow. Hope took the patient from a full-fledged crying panic attack to a calmer state in under 10 minutes. The volunteer explained, “Today was the day that I think all therapy dog handlers live for: when you haven’t just made people feel better, but when the dog does something that no doctor, nurse, or social worker was able to do.”
The support of administration is key to our success. A hospital-owned dog resides in administration when he is off-duty. Daily, the CEO recognizes, experiences, and observes the program’s benefits. In addition, she has a “therapy dog in training” that will be joining our program.
An Extraordinary Program is:
- Beyond what is usual, ordinary, regular or established
- Unique and original
- One that demonstrates substantial benefit to the recipients, to the health care organization and to the volunteer(s) providing the service
- One that involved an AHVRP member during planning and implementation.
Nominations for the Extraordinary Program Award will have been in operation for at least five years and will exemplify one or more of the areas below:
*Promoting a Caring Environment -- A program designed to reduce the anxiety of patients and family members, to enhance the social and/or cultural environment of the health care organization, to improve the understanding of the organization and its service, or to heighten the sensitivity of staff to the dignity of patients and their families.
*Change Management -- A program designed to reflect sociological changes in the health care organization including changes in patient population, changes in types of services offered, or new volunteer services to enhance patient services.
*Health & Wellness -- A program designed to educate and encourage patients and others to exercise increased responsibility for personal wellness.
*Volunteerism – A program designed to promote the philosophy of volunteering and/or raise the morale of volunteers.
*Recruitment/Recognition -- A program designed to encourage individuals to become volunteers or to recognize outstanding volunteer activities.
*Fundraising – A program designed to raise monies to enhance patient care or increase visitor or staff amenities in the facility.
*Special -- Exemplary volunteer program/service that does not fall within the other six categories.
This award is open to all AHVRP members and the health care organizations they represent. If selected, AHVRP will honor the Extraordinary Program Award recipient at the 50th Annual AHVRP Conference & Exposition Recognition Breakfast, Sunday, September 30, 2018, Hyatt Regency O'Hare, Rosemont, Illinois. The recipient will receive a 2018 AHVRP conference registration to attend the 2018 conference (non-transferable), an award along with notification to the senior leader of the recipient's organization.
All entries must be submitted by Wednesday, April 25, 2018, 11:59 p.m. CST.
Click here to submit your nomination. Nominations have closed for 2018.