EDGEWOOD, Ky. — Frontline workers have been under incredible stress after working through the coronavirus pandemic over the past year, and those feelings take a heavy toll. So much so that every last bit of TLC helps.
Workers at St. Elizabeth’s Edgewood are getting some much-needed attention from fuzzy, four-legged friends.
Gentle giant Sully, all 120 pounds of him, has his own room for meet-and-greets. The 3-year-old Newfoundland had a line of hospital staffers waiting to meet him to get a picture or give the volunteer pooch a potentially stress-relieving ear scratch or belly rub.
“He kind of absorbs some of that so they can leave stress and walk away,” Pet Partners volunteer Karen Brassfield said.
It’s the kind of medicine you don’t see normally in a hospital, but hospital employees said this kind of puppy-petting prescription is just what the doctor ordered.
“How can you not smile or get endorphins released when you’re petting this gorgeous guy,” St. Elizabeth Edgewood Emergency Department nurse Kristin Legrand said.
Six therapy dogs including Sully answered the call to action – along with one crested guinea pig named Olaf. The hospital’s volunteer services department cooked up the plan to bring in the caring creatures to give their personnel a pick-me-up.
“It’s not as common as we’d like, but this certainly helps, to see the pets come visit us,” St. Elizabeth Edgewood Pulmonary Care MD Grand Breazeale said.
As word spread throughout the building, medical workers kept coming to take a quick pet pause.
“We felt from our team, this was a way to support them while they’re supporting our community,” Erin Pittman with St. Elizabeth’s Volunteer Services said.
The pet owners said they get just as much back from the scratches and snuggles.
The volunteers said social distancing guidelines have kept them from visiting patients – but the hospital could bring the animals back for the frontline workers because they’re screened regularly. And now there’s COVID-19 vaccination protection, too.