M University Medical Facility Dogs Support Patients and Staff

M University Medical Facility Dogs Support Patients and Staff

A furry friend currently helps support patients at the Masonic Institute for Brain Development (MIDB).

A three-year-old golden retriever and lab jersey mix has become a familiar presence in clinics and research centers.

She works with child life specialist Carla Hefferan to treat patients.

“They are really looking forward to seeing her,” Hefferan said.

Because the facility focuses on pediatric brain and behavioral development, patients may have autism, anxiety, depression, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. They support toddlers through young adults.

The jersey helps the patient transition when they arrive.

“They’ve made the switch and been able to work on appointments,” Hefferan said. “It really reduces stress and anxiety.”

Jersey is also trained in medical play, which helps children understand what happens during surgery.

“It’s a blood pressure cuff. You can actually hook it up to the machine so the kids can see what it’s like for Ms. Jersey to take her blood pressure,” Hefferan said. “And then have a plan for what we’ll do when they have their blood pressure taken.”

Patients are allowed to walk through the procedure of blood collection, including tourniquets on jerseys and alcohol swabs on feet. She is also trained in using a practice MRI machine to reduce patient anxiety.

Can Do Canines have trained Jerseys since they were puppies. Her kind demeanor is also one of the reasons she is a good match for this program.

MIDB will open in 2021 as Minnesota’s first facility. Researchers are working with care teams who can apply these new findings to better understand conditions such as autism.

It happened at a time when autism spectrum disorder diagnoses are on the rise nationwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 34 children in Minnesota was diagnosed with autism in 2020.

“Many children with autism, and indeed many children with various disabilities, have great concerns, especially about medical care,” said Ellie Wilson, executive director of the Minnesota Autism Association. said. “It’s not just about how scary medical care is because you’re afraid of getting sick, but it’s also about the unknown of being in a new place. It’s just that we’re in an environment where we generally don’t spend a lot of time.”

She explained that there is a growing interest in creating a more sensory-friendly environment in medicine.

“One of the groups that ask us for training the most is clinical care providers, not just large hospitals, but also small outpatient clinics and private practices,” Wilson said. .

Wilson noted that assistance dogs can play an important role in making children feel comfortable.

At MIDB, Hefferan sees Jersey’s gentle demeanor already making a difference.

“I think you’ll see the benefits not only for patients and families, but also for staff,” Hefferan said. “People really feel welcome when they walk through the front door here, which is great.”

M University Medical Facility Dogs Support Patients and Staff

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