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3 Ways to Boost Patient, Staff, and Community Spirits

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, August 27, 2014

Community engagement is a critical component to patient-centered healthcare and is something that smaller organizations—the ones lacking big budgets—tend to excel at.

Community engagement is often overlooked when it comes to hospital marketing, getting passed over for more flashy advertising initiatives. But it's an important component of patient-centered healthcare and is something that organizations without big budgets tend to be really good at.


therapy dogs

Representatives of Baylor Scott & White's canine therapy team
Source: Baylorhealth.com

The following unconventional initiatives caught my eye this summer for their ingenuity in bringing patients, staff, and the community together—and lifting spirits while they're at it.

Therapy Dogs Enhance the Patient Experience

Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center is taking a four-legged approach to enhancing the patient experience with its Pup Therapy Program.

The program, which is centered around volunteer therapy dogs and their owners, aims to enhance patient wellbeing during their hospital stay by visiting units such as the ER, pediatrics, and oncology.

"It's like an extension of clinical care," Alan Luker, marketing director for the Waco, TX, hospital, told a local paper. "It gets over into things like massage therapy, aromatherapy, music therapy. Pet therapy is a proven discipline that aids the natural healing process."


Training Physicians for Empathy


 To be accepted into the program, the dogs must demonstrate that they are mild-mannered, comfortable around hospital equipment, and well behaved around different groups of people. The dogs and their owners must volunteer at least four hours each week, and the dogs are bathed and groomed before hospital visits in order to minimize germs brought into the facility.

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