North Texas Hospital Facility Dogs Used to Care for Patients and Staff

At Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital – Plano, a little love is good medicine. It’s administered by Kahlua and Frenchie, two golden-lab mix facility dogs who provide something a prescription cannot.

“Unbiased, unconditional care and affection 100% of the time,” said Jamile Ashmore, Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital-Plano Director of Medical Psychology. “They bring a sense of non-judgmental ease to the patients, as well as our physicians and our staff.”

According to Baylor Scott & White, the hospital is among the first in Texas to have full-time companion dogs on staff.

“Do they have badges,” Ashmore pondered with a smile. “Ah, actually they don’t have badges. We need to get them badges!”

The dogs aren’t just integrated into patient care, they also help ease stress for health care workers to help prevent burnout.

In 2019, the World Health Organization added “burnout” to its classification of diseases.

“The pandemic simply exacerbated it and brought it to the forefront,” Ashmore said. “These are problems that we’ve already had.”

According to the American Medical Association, the physician burnout rate jumped from 38% in 2020 to 63% in 2021. An American Nurses Association survey reported similar numbers, with the burnout rate nearly doubling since the pandemic.

Visits with Kahlua and Frenchie are meant to give staff a little break from their inherently stressful jobs.

“It lights up the room,” Ashmore said. “It almost melts away the stress for a few minutes.”

The dogs are bred and trained by Canine Companions.

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