Human Animal Bond Program among offerings at TAMC

| December 14, 2012 | 0 Comments
Indiana Jones, aka Indy, and owner, Liane Otsuka, bring cheer regularly to patients at TAMC, through the Human/Animal Bond Program. Indy was recented named American Red Cross Animal Hero of the Year.

Indiana Jones, aka Indy, and owner, Liane Otsuka, bring cheer regularly to patients at TAMC, through the Human/Animal Bond Program. Indy was recented named American Red Cross Animal Hero of the Year.

Genie Joseph
Contributing Writer
HONOLULU — To help promote resiliency among staff members, the Pacific Regional Medical Command’s Care Provider Support Program will premier “Dogs are Healers,” at Tripler Army Medical Center, here, Dec. 20, at noon.

The short film focuses on the healing effect animals can have not only on patients, but also on health care professionals.
At Tripler, the American Red Cross administers the Human Animal Bond Program, which allows handlers and their furry companions to visit patients and staff at the hospital. These visits raise morale and increase resiliency, which help patients heal faster and help staff avoid fatigue and possible burn-out.

“I get as much out of these visits as the patients,” said Liane Otsuka, a volunteer dog handler. “When you can visit a child in the hospital and make them feel safer and more relaxed, it is just such a good feeling.”

Otsuka said she is owned by her dog, Indiana Jones, more so than vice versa. Indiana, more commonly known as Indy, was recently named the 2012 American Red Cross Animal Hero of the Year.

In order to qualify for participation in TAMC’s Human Animal Bond Program, animals must pass all required health tests, a good citizenship test, and a host of other special behavioral tests to make sure they are the right match for a busy hospital environment.
Handlers must also go through Tripler’s employee orientation and the American Red Cross qualification process.

Capt. Emily Corbin, a veterinarian who works at Fort Shafter, puts prospective candidates through a series of tests to make sure they don’t startle as a result of sudden loud noises, don’t react aggressively and, generally, are good ambassadors of love.

“It’s great when you see a patient who maybe hasn’t been interacting with staff, just light up when an HAB dog comes into the room,” Corbin said. “This is a real warm-and-fuzzy program.”

Several studies show the benefits of working with animals in a therapeutic environment.
Animals can help lower blood pressure, decrease stress, improve mental outlook, shorten hospital stays and increase engagement.

The June 2012 issue of the Army Medical Department Journal devoted its entire issue to canine-assisted therapy in military medicine, with 16 articles reporting beneficial results.

“Interacting with animals is great for staff,” said Richard Ries, resiliency subject matter expert, Care Provider Support Program, PRMC. “Just taking a moment to pause and pet a dog helps providers re-charge mentally and physically. Then, they are better prepared for their next task.

“Sharing a moment of love with a four-footed friend can really bring you into the present,” Ries added. “Bringing a smile to your face is good medicine.”

Three other films will be shown during the “Dogs are Healers” premier. They will highlight the therapeutic benefits of working with horses; raising chickens; and Act Resilient, a training program that uses laughter and encourages working with animals as part of an overall wellness program.

Though the film program starts at noon, several handler-dog teams from Tripler’s Human Animal Bond Program will be dressed in their holiday best to take photos outside the Oceanside entrance, beginning at 11:30 a.m.

Before the film premiere starts, children from the Nix Performing Arts Center will perform. The film premiere is open to the public, and upon completion of the films, several subject-matter experts will speak on resiliency and the healing effect of animals.
PRMC employees will receive credit for attending the event if they register in the Training Event System, or TES, beforehand.
(Editor’s note: Genie Joseph is an American Red Cross volunteer with the Pacific Regional Medical Command’s Care Provider Support Program.)

Film Premiere
What: “Dogs are Healers” presentation
When: Thursday, Dec. 20, noon
Where: Tripler Army Medical Center
Who: Open to the public; includes children’s performance and photos with dogs at 11:30 a.m., plus three other film premiers.

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Category: Health

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