Felicity the Greyhound is a new member of Hawke’s Bay Hospital’s Intensive Care team.
While she might not have the medical and nursing backgrounds of those who work in the unit, she’s no fool to working out who needs a pat or a friendly paw.
Felicity is one of two dogs who visit the unit twice a week. Both dogs fit a special criteria that includes loving a cuddle or a pat. The more serious part involves being quiet, loving people and able to respond to commands.
Intensivist Debbie Chalmers came up with the idea after attending a regional Intensive Care conference with some members of the ICU nursing team, and learning of the successes that Wellington Hospital had with a similar programme.
Dr Chalmers said since the programme began in Hawke’s Bay, in August, there had been a tremendous response from patients, family and staff.
“We conducted interviews for the position of pet therapist and one of the patients, as well as the staff, helped with the process. We couldn’t decide between the two well qualified applicants (Jessie and Felicity), and so just had to get both.
“Intensive Care is a stressful environment, and the visiting dogs not only help patients but they are able to interact and bring joy to families who are also coping with a very difficult time, with their loved ones being unwell.
“The dogs are great for staff as well- where a cuddle and a pat never goes astray and can make a huge difference to stressful and demanding jobs.”
“Not every patient can pat the dogs, like those whose immune systems aren’t working properly, - but they get to see a little a bit of normality with a dog wandering around and even that can make a difference, “ she said.
Andrew Biggs, owner of Felicity, with an intensive care patient. Felicity was trained as part of a Greyhound re-homing as pets scheme. Not only does she make a wonderful family pet, says Andrew she’s thrilled to be part of Hawke’s Bay Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit’s care package.
Felicity rests her head on one of her favourite patients, Frank Dooney’s, lap.