Portland Business Journal: “Facility dog brings ‘Hope’ to Doernbecher patients”
I am an animal person, and upon hearing there was a full-time “facility” service dog at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, the first in the region, I sensed a hopeful story.
The English Cream Golden Retriever is about to finish her first year of full-time work as “chief canine officer” with her handler Sandra Westfall, a child life specialist for the hospital.
Westfall summed up her year with Hope: “Magical.”
It’s not just the patients. Hope helps the families, the siblings and the staff. Patients and staff members alike can request time with Hope. Westfall gets many requests from patients’ families, and many from staff who work in very stressful places, like the ICU. They call and say, “We need a Hope moment.”
Moods change when she comes walking down the hall, into patients rooms and meetings. People of all ages smile.
One story in particular resonated with me. The sibling of a patient recovering from a bad accident was too afraid to go into the room to see his injured brother. Westfall introduced him to Hope, handed him the leash and with Hope’s support, he was able to walk into his brother’s hospital room.
This story took me back in time, to when I was 12 and standing outside the door of the hospital room where my best friend was recovering from a near-fatal shot in a hunting accident. I finally found the courage to enter the room — and promptly passed out.
Perhaps if there had been a Hope, things would have been much different.
Click through for a closer look at Hope. For more details, visit the page Doernbecher created for Hope.
The Portland Business Journal, January 8, 2016