Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital announced today that PetSmart Charities has offered a gift of $75,000 to extend the tenure of Professor Bunsen Honeydew the hospital's first of three facility dogs, through October 2020. The hospital's "Paws & Play" program was initially launched in June 2017 with a PetSmart Charities grant of $350,000.
The first of its kind in New York State, Mount Sinai's Paws & Play pairs animal-assisted therapy with the skills of a certified child life specialist and a licensed creative arts therapist to provide therapeutic interventions for patients, families, and staff. Animal-assisted therapy and facility dogs have been found to increase positive behaviors, reduce experiences of pain, lower blood pressure, and decrease experiences of depression and fatigue.
"Animal-assisted therapy is a critical component of our pediatric programming, which includes pain management, procedural support, socialization, and, on a really good day, some fun and laughter," says Morgan Stojanowski, Assistant Director, Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department, Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital.
The PetSmart Charities grant will fund the salary of Professor's handler, certified child life specialist Ali Spike, along with food and veterinary care for Professor and ongoing research.
We are proud to offer our continued support of Professor and the Paws & Play program. For three years this program has transformed the way patients receive care, and we are thrilled to share the healing power of pets with hospital staff, patients, and their families."
Kelly Balthazor, regional relationship manager at PetSmart Charities
"We know that facility dogs enhance patients' social, emotional, and even cognitive functioning. In our research currently underway, we are diving a little deeper to evaluate Professor's role in mitigating stress for pediatric patients receiving intravenous placements in the outpatient clinic," says Ms. Stojanowski. The study, she says, will include more than 200 children and will be concluded in about a year.
Professor clocks in at 9 am and works until 5 pm every day, primarily in the hospital's outpatient Hematology/Oncology clinic. Ms. Spike and Professor also spend time in the pediatric emergency room and intensive care units, which are also housed within Kravis Children's Hospital. In addition to facilitating more than 250 patient and family sessions a month, Professor also holds "Professor's Office Hours" on a weekly basis to provide comfort to physicians and nursing staff. He is also a frequent star guest of Mount Sinai's KidZone TV, a state-of-the-art, interactive production and internal broadcast studio within Kravis Children's Hospital. KidZone TV produces live programming three times a day, seven days a week, for pediatric patients and families, and is broadcast throughout the Kravis Children's Hospital on a dedicated channel.