Download B-roll of Gigi with handlers Laura
and Rebecca training at Canine Companions for Independence at B
aylor Scott & White Kinkeade Campus here.
TEMPLE, Texas – Three years ago, the first four-legged staff member was welcomed to Baylor Scott & White McLane Children’s Medical Center. The founding members of the hospital’s Pawsitive Pals program has officially added a second member to the facility dog team to deliver more quality hugs and compassionate snuggles to patients.
Today, Baylor Scott & White McLane Children's is excited to announce the addition of its newest staff member, Gigi, a certified facility dog from Canine Companions, who will assist the medical center's social work program. Social workers and handlers Laura Ingram and Rebecca Holmstrom will work with Gigi during their visits with pediatric patients in the emergency department and clinic to help provide therapeutic support and a sense of safety.
“Rebecca and I are very grateful to have Gigi as the newest addition to our team because we know she will truly assist providing a sense of security to our most vulnerable patients,” said Ingram. “In addition to being an excellent tool for compassionate patient care, Gigi has already been a refreshing source of therapy for our trauma and emergency staff as well.”
Since 1975, Canine Companions has bred, raised and expertly trained service dogs in over 40 commands designed to assist people with disabilities or to motivate and inspire clients with special needs. Gigi can pull toy wagons, push drawers closed, and retrieve items. She has specific commands that allow her to interact with pediatric patients and their families calmly and appropriately.
Baylor Scott & White McLane Children’s receives 30,000 patients via emergency services per year, and over 3,000 visits in the outpatient clinic per year. With a recent expansion these numbers have increased. The meaningful relationship between animals and humans will allow Gigi to service the physical and psychological needs of patients, patient families, and medical staff for health and recovery processes.
“Thanks to our three-year collaboration with Canine Companions, both patients and staff have benefited from the therapeutic cuddles delivered by our Pawsitive Pals program,” said Dominic Lucia, MD, chief medical officer, Baylor Scott & White McLane Children’s. “We are delighted to integrate Gigi into the Baylor Scott & White McLane Children’s family as her presence combined with her impressive training will provide a necessary therapy to patients and staff throughout the hospital especially regarding difficult social, behavioral, and mental health care scenarios. We hope to continue growing our facility dog program with the help of Canine Companions.”
For over 45 years, Canine Companions has been enhancing the lives of people with disabilities by training and placing more than 6,700 service dogs with program graduates, including more than 350 with military veterans and more than 1,700 dogs with children. The estimated cost of a highly trained Canine Companions facility dog like Gigi, and all follow-up support, is $50,000. However, each facility dog is provided at no cost. Canine Companions depends on the support of tens of thousands of donors and volunteers to match our facility with an assistance dog like Gigi entirely free of charge.
“Canine Companions is proud to have collaborated with Baylor Scott & White to continue to serve the community through our expertly trained service dogs and facility dogs,” said Michelle Davison, executive director of Canine Companions South Central Region. “We know that a highly skilled facility dog can make a significant impact for patients and clients with a variety of needs, and we look forward to seeing the impact Gigi will make at Baylor Scott & White McLane Children’s Medical Center as she joins the facility dog program.”
For more information on Baylor Scott & White McLane Children’s services in the Temple Region, visit:
About Canine Companions
Canine Companions provides expertly-trained service dogs to children, adults and veterans with disabilities. Established in 1975, Canine Companions has six regional training centers across the country. Canine Companions is recognized worldwide for the excellence of its dogs, and the quality and longevity of the matches it makes between dogs and people. For more information, visit cci.org or call 1-800-572-BARK.
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About Baylor Scott & White Health
As the largest not-for-profit health system in the state of Texas, Baylor Scott & White promotes the health and well-being of every individual, family and community it serves. It is committed to making quality care more accessible, convenient and affordable through its integrated delivery network, which includes the Baylor Scott & White Health Plan, Baylor Scott & White Research Institute, the Baylor Scott & White Quality Alliance and its leading digital health platform – MyBSWHealth. Through 51 hospitals and more than 1,100 access points, including flagship academic medical centers in Dallas, Fort Worth and Temple, the system offers the full continuum of care, from primary to award-winning specialty care. Founded as a Christian ministry of healing more than a century ago, Baylor Scott & White today serves more than three million Texans. For more information, visit: BSWHealth.com