Pet Therapy Dog Service A Must Have Hospital Amenity!

I recently had the honor of meeting Fido.  Fido is a hospital pet therapy dog.  I saw Fido roaming the halls without a leash the other day.  It was a beautiful dog, probably cleaner in many regards  to some of the people I have encountered in my life.  Mrs Happy and I have Marty and Cooper, our two Italian greyhounds.   Their love tanks are always full.  I think they would make the perfect therapy dogs.  Marty gives hugs and kisses.  I'm not kidding.  If you tell him "hugs and kisses"  he will walk onto your chest, wrap his skinny little paws around your neck and press his neck into your chin.  He'll give you a hug and then smack you a wet kiss. He just loves giving hugs and kisses.  What patient wouldn't want Marty jumping on their sternal incision and jumping around their chest tubes?

I say go for it.  If Marty and Fido can make you feel better as a patient and help the hospital get higher hospital  survey satisfaction results, it's time we get a pet therapy dog on every floor. It's also  time for hospitals to start looking for alternative sources of revenue.   Animal assisted therapy is the buzz word being tossed around these days. Offering hospital therapy dogs is the perfect growth opportunity for hospitals struggling under the weight of declining payments. It's time for hospitals to start thinking outside the box.  Pet therapy is the perfect revenue source.

I envision dog and cat therapy as just one option of many to be offered to patients on a daily basis.  For an additional fee, the patient will have a host of services to pick from.  Whether it's animals and hair stylists on one day or pedicurists and  massage specialists on the other, the menu of fee carrying hospital amenities  is limited only by the imagination.

If  the patient can pick their food menu everyday why not offer them amenities above and beyond what their Medicare and Blue Cross will pay for?   I envision the future of hospital medicine being funded by the rich and well off who demand a higher level of service in their hospitel.  Unless they can find alternative sources of revenue, hospitals will suffer as Medicare goes bankrupt.   It will be a race to the bottom unless hospitals can generate income above and beyond what insurance will pay for actual health care.

The time has come to build hospital kennels and invest in therapy dogs.   Who's going to pay for the right to see Fido?  You know who you are.  The ones with the summer home in Hawaii and  a 40 feet fifth wheel parked in their 12 stall garage.  They want the comforts of home.  They want Fido there to comfort their ills. Well,  it's time they help support the economic collapse coming to a hospital near them.  It's time for them to  pony up some extra cash to pay for that pet therapy dog to grace their  presence. It's time they paid to get their hair done and their back massaged.  It's time they paid to get their nails done.  They are the future revenue source of hospitals everywhere. 

Who is going to manage these therapy dogs in the hospital?   Who is going to be your hair stylist?  Who's going to do your nails and give you your massage?   Why hospitalists of course.  I see training and managing of pet therapy dogs among the other amenities as just another in a series of value added benefit hospitalists will bring to the future of hospital based medicine.  Offering animal therapy is just one of many revenue sources for  hospitalists  to entertain as they enter this future of  hospitalist based medicine.  You won't hear about any of this at the Society of Hospital Medicine international convention this year in Washington, DC.  Nope.  You heard it here first.

Quality care?  Evidence based medicine?  Nah.  None of that matters.  The future of hospital medicine isn't about quality or evidence driven medical care.  It's about keeping patients happy.  Rich patients. Rich patients with money.  Rich patients who will keep our hospitals solvent for the rest of us common folk.  That's the future of hospital based medicine.  Without rich patients, hospitals won't survive what's coming our way.

In-patient pet therapy dogs are  the  future  source of revenue for hospitals struggling to stay alive in a Medicare system that's broke.  It's this type of thinking outside the box that will save future hospitals from the greatest asset  collapse the world has never seen.  As a hospitalist I plan on staying ahead of the curve.  I'm getting my dog handling permits in line today.   I recommend others do the same.


Oh, and lets not forget about the nurses. Hospitals are always bending over backward to keep their nursing staff filled to the brim with satisfaction. I also envision a pet therapy program for our nurses to help them through the grind of 12 hour days. I asked my facebook readers what animals we should use for nursing pet therapy and they didn't disappoint me. Here are their responses:
  • A dog with a margarita machine on its back would be therapeutic!
  • I think at the very least, lets train the dog to pee on the leg of the mean docs. 
  • Does it matter? We would be expected to feed it, walk it, clean up after it and get no extra pay for it. Just kidding. I want a therapy dog who can go cancel call lights. Bark once got pain meds... Twice for IV Benadryl! 
  • We need "fetch" dogs for when we forget supplies! 
  • St Bernard with a beer barrel around his neck .
  • Honestly, any dog pulling a small wagon with bottles of water, candy, or granola bars for nurses would be such a bright spot in my day. 
  • I have done therapy work with my IG. It really makes a difference. 
  • I'm doing my thesis on animal-assisted therapy! There are studies showing benefits for staff & visitors, too. Honestly, I could use my pit bull at work with some of the DKA's with abdominal pain only relieved by Dilaudid 2mg IV hourly. 
  • A gorilla so he could teach us how to pound our chests and be braver. 
    • Ooohhh... can we train them to do compressions too?
  • Preferably one that keeps crazy family away so nurses can do their job 
  • A honey badger.
  • I like the mini therapy horses.
  • Something that will bring me food and/or a potty break when I need it. 
  • Best idea yet! I need my own therapy dog at work for stress! Cheaper and healthier than anti-anxiety meds!
  • Tribbles.
  • Monkeys! Poo flinging, masturbating monkeys!! It would make the day go faster anyway. Though I might confuse the monkeys with a couple of the patients, just sayin'. 
  • Tape worm.
  • A loving companion to help with rounds! 
  • I loved having my friend's IG come to see me when I was in the hospital. He was the best! 
  • Otters. No reason needed. 
  • The nurses need a boa constrictor - to throttle the doctors when they don't sign their orders & we have to hunt them down! 
  • I know I'm going against the grain here, but: cats! I find them much more sympathetic than dogs. 
  • We love on the therapy dogs just as much as anyone! They really like US because we keep doggie treats in the nurses station (well at least our unit clerk does)! 
  • I have two therapy dogs that I take to various places and the staff seem to enjoy them even more! 
  • Poodle would be perfect. Cute and fast . They would be prefect to answer call bells. 
  • Golden Retriever. 
  • Ferrets. Lots and lots of ferrets. And gerbils. 
Some humor is only understood by healthcare professionals and my be offensive to others. Read at your own risk.

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