Public Health System Receives First In-Residence Therapy Dog | NYC Health + Hospitals

Public Health System Receives First In-Residence Therapy Dog

Momo, a yellow Labrador Retriever from Healing Pause, will supplement existing therapeutic programs at NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler to improve the quality of life for residents in care

Jan 10, 2020

New York, NY

NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler today announced the arrival of Momo, the health care system’s first in-residence therapy dog that will supplement and support the facility’s residents’ treatment and recovery. Residents and staff hosted a “collar ceremony” to welcome the therapy dog, a yellow Labrador Retriever. Momo comes to NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler as a donation from Healing Pause, a charitable organization that places therapy dogs in facilities that serve people in need, and Angelica Patient Assistance Program, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for residents at the facility. Momo will provide therapy support spending time with residents in the dayroom or their rooms, making regular bedside visits and attending the facility’s special events. Animal-assisted therapy has been shown to help promote a patient’s recovery and allow them to better managed their health issues related to trauma. Momo was delivered this past Tuesday by head trainer and handler Beth Robison. Staff members and residents underwent specific training to handle Momo.

See photos of Momo with Coler staff and patients

“We are happy to welcome Momo to the NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler family. Studies have clearly documented the healing power of animals on patients, and I know that Momo will have the same effect on ours. Momo will help to reduce stress and anxiety, while promoting the health and wellbeing of our residents,” said NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler CEO Robert K. Hughes.

“Healing Pause is honored to partner with Angelica Patient Assistance Program and NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler in bringing this long-time dream of an on-staff therapy dog to fruition,” said Founder and Director of Healing Pause Nathan Davila. “It is our mission to bring the intrinsic healing qualities of dogs to those in need. A moment to pause, a moment to love in our hectic schedules, because there is healing in the pause and a moment can change a lifetime.”

In her role, Momo will also support members of the facility’s Open Doors program in their efforts to encourage youth to become positive change makers and inform on the realities of gun violence in NYC. Open Doors is an arts and justice initiative based at NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler, where members collaborate with established artists, use storytelling, hip-hop and spoken word to challenge audiences to combat the injustice that breeds violence in our cities. The addition of an in-residence therapy dog at NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler builds on its commitment to community healing and engagement. Internally, Momo will serve as a resource for various departments as she becomes integrated into the facility’s daily routine.

The in-residence therapy dog received specialized training from Drachten Performance, a specialized training program for show, service and hunting dogs, which includes advanced certifications for emotional support, dealing with patients with visual impairment and cognitive disabilities and skilled service for mobility impairment. For the past 12 years, Angelica Patient Assistance Program has supported social, cultural and recreational activities that have made a tremendous difference in the lives of NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler’s residents. In 2016, Angelica partnered with residents in Open Doors to support the creativity and leadership of people who have been harmed by gun violence.

“Congratulations to Momo and her new NYC Health + Hospitals family,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried. “Animal-assisted therapy, like art and music therapy, is increasingly recognized as a valuable service for patients dealing with trauma. I look forward to meeting NYC Health + Hospitals’ newest employee!”

“A ray of sunshine and hope, therapy dogs bring comfort and joy those in need,” said Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright. “We welcome Momo and the important support she will provide at NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler for patients who are recovering from violence and trauma.”

NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler provides high quality short-term rehabilitation and long-term skilled nursing services in a warm and comfortable setting on Roosevelt Island. From specialized rehabilitation equipment to expert wound care, they offer a variety of health care services – all designed to deliver excellent care and maximize patient independence to more than 500 patients and residents.

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