SOMERSET, Ky. (LEX 18) — As we work towards the end of the pandemic, there's a type of therapy making a real difference.
It isn't so much a medication, but it does have four legs. You could say hospital staff and patients have had a paw-sitive experience with the two therapy dogs, Freedom and Cassie.
The recently established pet therapy program at Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital is the sign of some more normalcy returning. Both Cassie and Freedom bring smiles to a place where smiles have been needed most.
"I would miss my pets almost as much as I would miss my own family members," said Lydia Moore, with Hospice of Lake Cumberland. "So to see that bond between a human and a dog is very touching to all of our staff."
Manoj Chandran is a psychiatrist and Freedom's handler. He has seen instances where just Freedom's presence helps make a difference in the patient's care.
"Before Freedom comes into the picture, they just shut down, they don't want to talk, they don't want to interact, they just want to turn around in their bed and just sleep," Chandran said. "And then when Freedom comes all of the sudden they're out of their bed petting on her, loving on her. They feel a bond with her and they're able to open up more about their problems."
These dogs are trained to respond in various situations to address the patient's needs.
"If somebody is very agitated or aggressive, her emotions will be slower and more relaxed," said Chandran. "It almost brings down the anxiety and agitation of the patient."
Lawrence Underwood is Cassie's owner, handler, and a licensed professional clinical counselor. He remembers one story where a patient really missed her own pets and couldn't be with them.
"As soon as she saw Cassie, she smiled and her loved ones were sitting around and they all were just full of grins," Underwood said. "Cassie realized that ad couldn't wait to get up to her. So she went directly to her side of the bed, put her paws up on the bed, and the lady was able to pet her."
Patients interested in requesting a visit from a therapy dog can call 606-678-3508.