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Excela Health: Going to the Dogs: Pet Therapy

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Submitted by: Marilyn L. Daniels, Manager|Library Services, Coordinator|Pet Therapy, Excela Health Latrobe Hospital, Latrobe, PA

In November 2014, as an adjunct to my role as manager of Library Services for Excela Health, a three-hospital health system located in Westmoreland County in western PA, I assumed responsibility for Excela’s pet therapy services. As an animal lover from an early age but a one-person department, I was thrilled yet daunted by this new role for a service initiated through Volunteer Services as part of Excela’s approach to the patient experience.

Thinking this was the time for some old-fashioned technology, I started making phone calls, learning Excela had five active pet therapy volunteers with five dogs—a Brussels griffon, a German short-haired pointer, two Shetland sheepdogs (”Shelties”), and a West Highland terrier (”Westie”). From my past experience, I have learned that repeat volunteers are motivated by several factors—factors reinforced, in part, by a 2014 survey I located on “The Able Altruist” website reported by Janna Finch (http://able-altruist.softwareadvice.com/what-motivates-people-to-become-repeat-volunteers-0614/. The three I expected would most likely play a key role for pet therapy volunteers were:

  1. schedule that suits the volunteer’s availability
  2. proof that the volunteer’s work is valuable and valued
  3. interaction with the department/service staff and with other volunteers

For those reasons, I spent the first two months getting to know my existing volunteers and their dogs. I determined what was and was not working for each volunteer, made necessary adjustments and rounded with each team to see first-hand the impact their interactions with patients, visitors and staff were having.

The librarian in me proved useful when I reviewed the existing policy, locating a 2008 article (since updated in March 2015) from the American Journal of Infection Control titled “Guidelines for animal-assisted interventions in health care facilities” as well as other information that I could use for comparison. Needless to say, as one with no previous pet therapy experience, I learned a lot!!!

By early 2015, I was ready to start expanding the program by contacting several local training facilities that provided pet therapy training/testing, inviting those with registered therapy dogs to contact me. As they did, I asked each to complete the:

  1. application all Excela volunteers are required to complete
  2. application I developed (and have since revised) which documents Excela’s health requirements for each dog and the organization through which each dog is registered as a therapy dog

Once the applications were returned, a representative for Volunteer Services obtained the screening, mandatory education, clearances and other documentation requisites needed by all Excela volunteers. These include Excela ID badges for the volunteers and their dogs, which often amuse those encountering the dogs once they begin their assignments.

When the volunteer process was completed, I met one-on-one with these new recruits and their canine(s). I determined one or more assigned locations based on their hospital preferences, and I rounded with each team for at least their first two visits. During those rounds, I was able to introduce them to the staff on their assigned area(s), alert them to signs and other particulars of those areas that will impact their visits, and observe them in action with their dogs in order to ensure a good “fit.” At other times, I made myself available for questions and concerns, assuring that the volunteers felt connected—to me and to Excela.

Additionally, I have started to receive special requests for patients in rooms not being covered on a given day or on floors not currently included in the rounds. Frequently these requests come from family members who have seen the dogs in one of the facilities. Recognizing how their own pets brighten their days, the pet therapy volunteers have been very cooperative and together with the nursing staff and the families, I have been able accommodate these requests. In fact, I am in the process of developing a policy and procedure to expedite this practice.

For February 23, 2015, which was International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day, I designed a “thank you” post card and mailed it along with treats to each dog. On Monday, April 27, two of our long-standing volunteers and I taped a half-hour radio interview on pet therapy for a local radio station, WCNS, for their “Animal Talk with Tegan” segment. It aired that Saturday. On June 26, I hosted a “meet and greet” event at Rizzo’s Malabar Inn, Crabtree, PA, to provide my administrators and me with an opportunity to formally thank the pet therapy volunteers and give them a chance to meet each other and exchange stories. Although not in attendance, each dog was featured in a photo display I created so that the canine component was not overlooked at the event. Throughout the year, I also recognized each of the dogs and their humans with a birthday card for their special days.

Since July 1, each new volunteer has been completing a “Behavioral Survey,” which I developed as part of the application process for each new dog. Since therapy dogs are not required to retest annually, this survey helps me to determine if the dog is suitable for the health care setting from a social standpoint, regardless of when it was first registered.

In September, I fashioned a display for both the system quarterly leadership meeting and the physician social, where key stakeholders had a chance to see the progress of the service and interact with some of our volunteers and their dogs. In fact, at the leadership meeting, the dogs’ pictures were taken wearing pink sunglasses for a newly-released video that the health system made highlighting 3-D mammography, a new system service. The handout I developed and distributed at these events can now be used when one of the teams visits the Nurse Residency Program three times per year or when other opportunities arise to showcase the service.

As I approach my one-year anniversary coordinating Excela’s pet therapy services, more is in the works—a logo for Excela’s pet therapy services, a “Therapy Dog of the Month” program, “greeters” for CME/CE programs, collaboration with system hospice services and more. I can now understand why any article on pet therapy touts these factors as temporary benefits of a pet therapy visit for patients:

  • relieves stress, anxiety, depression and fatigue
  • lowers blood pressure
  • raises mood
  • reduces the perception of pain

I realize why families and other visitors respond so positively, knowing the temporary reprieve visits provide from the stress of loved ones’ hospitalizations. Still, as an employee myself, I have been most delighted to see the impact these teams have had on staff morale, too. When I walk down the hall with a team and hear staff acknowledging dogs by their names, indicating a fondness for these visits, it reinforces that pet therapy is a service that benefits everyone.

Having worked at Excela for more than 29 years, I have been involved in the start-up and/or restructuring of numerous programs and services but strictly from the standpoint of a medical librarian. Researching the validity or viability of a program under consideration or determining how other organizations are operating a service is an expected part of my daily role, which is gratifying. Still the literature I locate or the data I discover is handed off to others to review and incorporate into the project at hand. In this case, I have also been able to use the information I have uncovered, bringing an added dimension to my library role and enhancing my level of satisfaction for the research process.

Finally, I am pleased that the number of volunteers has increased to more than 15 and the number of active dogs is hovering around 20 with applications pending. The program now reaches into far more departments/units and waiting areas than it did a year ago, and it includes dogs as small as a 4-lb. Yorkie and as large as a 115-lb. Old English sheepdog. Yes, Library Services has “gone to the dogs”—Amelia, Bear, Bella, Booker, Canon, Dougie, Heidi, Higgins, Kane, Kasey, Kassidy, Kaylan, Kyle, Narco, Odie, Razz, Rosie, Roxanna, Riley, “little” Rusty, “big” Rusty, Stix, Stone, Tucker and Willow.   That’s a good thing—a doggone good thing!

dogs in pink sunglasses

Some of Excela’s therapy dogs

DEADLINE EXTENDED TO NOV 13 FOR HSLANJ FALL 2015 GROUP LICENSING OFFER

PRINCETON, NJ (October 29, 2015)—More than 750 electronic resources from 15 vendors are available to all medical librarians in the Middle Atlantic Region (MAR) and Southeastern/Atlantic Region (SE/A) through the Fall 2015 Offer curated by the Health Sciences Library Association of New Jersey (HSLANJ) Group Licensing Initiative (GLI), and now the deadline to participate is extended from October 30 to November 13.

“There is still time for medical librarians to prepare an order,” explains HSLANJ Executive Director Robert T. Mackes. “I encourage anyone with questions to contact me—I am happy to work with them to see if the GLI can enhance their collections and save them money.”

Two factors allow participants to realize a costs savings of 15-70% off resources’ regular pricing—negotiations by the HSLANJ GLI, and the leveraging of group purchasing power since more than 120 medical and hospital librarians regularly participate. To receive a copy of the Fall Offer, please contact Robert T. Mackes (570-856-5952 or rtmackes@gmail.com). For more information, see hslanj.org.

The National Network of Libraries of Medicine, MAR and SE/A, fully recognize and endorse the HSLANJ Group Licensing Initiative as the lead organization capable of assisting libraries in their efforts to utilize multi-dimensional electronic resources. The HSLANJ Group Licensing Initiative is known as the first consortium of its kind in the nation.

The HSLANJ Group Licensing Initiative is funded in part with Federal funds from the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. HHS-N-276-2011-00003-C with the University of Pittsburgh, Health Sciences Library System. This project is also funded in part with Federal funds from the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. HHS-N-276-2011-00004-C with the University of Maryland Baltimore.

The SHARE Approach – Putting shared decision making into practice (Boost Box)

Join us at this exciting presentation! Participants receive 1 MLA CE

Presenters: Kevin Progar, Project Manager, Regional Health Literacy Coalition. Kevin is an experienced facilitator, health literacy advocate, and certified by AHRQ as a SHARE Approach Master Trainer.

Description:

Shared Decision Making (SDM) occurs when a health care provider and a patient work together to make a health care decision that is best for the patient. Research shows that SDM has measurable impacts on cost, quality, and outcomes. This presentation will highlight Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s SHARE Approach, which is a free to use evidence-based model for implementing shared decision making.

Date / Time: November 10th /Noon – 1 pm (ET)

Where:   https://webmeeting.nih.gov/boost2/

Online / No Registration Required

AIDSource: a Redesigned, Mobile-Optimized HIV/AIDS Information Website from the National Library of Medicine

The National Library of Medicine’s web portal for HIV/AIDS information has been redesigned and given a new name. The new website, AIDSource, offers access to a comprehensive collection of HIV/AIDS-related information resources that are reviewed and selected by expert information specialists and librarians.

Visitors to AIDSource will now be able to view the website content on their mobile device. The website is now automatically optimized for display across all device types, including desktop computers, tablets, and smartphones. The new design of the website was constructed by user feedback received through a website survey in 2014. In addition to responsive design, the new AIDSource design also includes the following new features:

  • Addition of a slider feature that highlights resources of interest
  • Addition of images for topics
  • Improvements in website navigation, including a menu on all pages of the website that provides access to all topic areas

The mission of AIDSource is to serve as a reliable source for access to HIV/AIDS-related information from federal and non-federal sources. Resources included on the AIDSource website are organized by both topic of interest and audience, and information is available in English and Spanish.

NLM welcomes your feedback on the AIDSource website. Please send your comments to: tehip@teh.nlm.nih.gov.

Go to AIDSource: http://aids.nlm.nih.gov/

Want to see a demo of the site? Join the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Middle Atlantic Region, on October 14 from noon -1pm ET for a webinar with the Project Manager.

Details: http://1.usa.gov/1iI1qfS

750+ RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO LIBRARIANS IN FALL 2015 GROUP LICENSING OFFER

More than 750 electronic resources from 15 vendors are available to all medical librarians in the Middle Atlantic Region (MAR) and Southeastern/Atlantic Region (SE/A) through the Fall 2015 Offer curated by the Health Sciences Library Association of New Jersey (HSLANJ) Group Licensing Initiative (GLI). Two factors allow participants to realize a costs savings of 15-70% off resources’ regular pricing—negotiations by the HSLANJ GLI, and the leveraging of group purchasing power since more than 120 medical and hospital librarians regularly participate.

To receive a copy of the Fall Offer, please contact Robert T. Mackes (570-856-5952 or rtmackes@gmail.com).

Group Licensing is a creative solution to the escalating cost of high-quality electronic resources—medical journals, books and databases. The National Network of Libraries of Medicine, MAR and SE/A, fully recognize and endorse the HSLANJ Group Licensing Initiative as the lead organization capable of assisting libraries in their efforts to utilize multi-dimensional electronic resources. The HSLANJ Group Licensing Initiative is known as the first consortium of its kind in the nation.

Managed by medical librarian and HSLANJ Executive Director Robert Mackes, MLS, AHIP, the GLI is guided by a committee comprised of librarians from different-sized health facilities in the regions served. Contact Robert about scheduling a meeting or presentation about the GLI, at your next chapter, state organization or local consortium meeting.

The deadline to participate in the Spring Offer is Friday, October 30. Check the nonprofit organization’s website, hslanj.org, for more information and FAQs about the GLI.

The HSLANJ Group Licensing Initiative is funded in part with Federal funds from the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. HHS-N-276-2011-00003-C with the University of Pittsburgh, Health Sciences Library System. This project is also funded in part with Federal funds from the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. HHS-N-276-2011-00004-C with the University of Maryland Baltimore.

Upcoming Sexual Health Trainings from MAR

Join NN/LM MAR for three upcoming trainings relating to Sexual Health. All trainings are via webinar with audio through your phone.

Introduction to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center Library (Boost Box) / Oct. 13, 2015 noon-1pm ET

Description: This presentation will introduce librarians and others to the extensive, unique collections of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center Library. Providing resources to researchers, advocates, medical professionals, law enforcement, allied organizations, and the public since 2000, the NSVRC Library may be considered the largest collection of materials on sexual violence and prevention in the world, currently housing a collection of over 35,000 unique titles. Learn how PCAR and NSVRC can provide valuable resources and training materials for the medical profession, public health practitioners, and academic institutions nationwide.

Presenters: Karen Litterer, MSLS, Head Librarian, National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) and Melissa Powers, MSLS, Librarian, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR)

No registration required. 1 MLA CE will be provided.

Where: https://webmeeting.nih.gov/boost2/

HIV/AIDS Resources / October 14, 2015 noon-1pm ET

Allison McDougall, AIDSinfo Deputy Project Manager and Christina Copty, AIDSource Project Coordinator, will present about NLM HIV/AIDS resources, including AIDSinfo and AIDSource.

AIDSinfo offers access to the latest, federally approved HIV/AIDS medical practice guidelines, HIV treatment and prevention clinical trials, and other research information for health care providers, researchers, people affected by HIV/AIDS, and the general public. AIDSource was developed by NLM to ensure that those seeking information about HIV/AIDS have a source of quality reviewed current content, and provides access to HIV/AIDS-related information both within and outside of the federal government.

The presentation will cover the many features of AIDSinfo and AIDSource, including the portfolio of AIDSinfo mobile apps.

No registration required. 1 MLA CE will be provided.

Where: https://webmeeting.nih.gov/nlmfocus/

Building Collections and Connections for LGBT Health Awareness: improving the health, safety, and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons / November 10, 2015 3pm – 4:30pm ET

Outreach Coordinator Kate Flewelling will teach this new course. Participants will:

  • develop a better understanding of the health information needs of the LGBT community.
  • have an increased awareness of the importance of LGBT education for health care providers and the role of implicit bias in healthcare.
  • discover resources that can be utilized in reference interactions.
  • be able to identify electronic, print, and other resources for building a LGBT collection.
  • will gain ideas for outreach strategies to the LGBT community.

Registration required. Participants who attend the webinar and complete a short practice exercise will receive 2 MLA CE

Register: http://nnlm.gov/ntcc/classes/class_details.html?class_id=943

Using Technology to Improve Consumer Health – Project Reports

Join us September 24 to hear about these exciting MAR-funded projects!

ProjectiPads to support CLIP Consumer Health Ambassador Program

Awardee:  Atlantic Health System Overlook Medical Center, Summit, NJ.

Description:  The Atlantic Health System (AHS) will provide iPads for the Ambassadors who visit inpatients’ bedsides.  We wish to extend our Consumer Library Information Prescription (CLIP) program to the inpatient population at the Morristown Medical Center and Overlook Medical Center campuses.  In doing so, ambassadors will use iPads to take notes and send requests for patient information directly to the librarian.  The librarian will prepare a packet of information for delivery back to the patient.

ProjectNOOKs and iPads for Healthcare Consumers

Awardee:  Myra Mahon Patient Resource Center, Weill Medical College, Cornell University
New York, NY.

Description:  The Myra Mahon Patient Resource Center (PRC) at the Joan & Sanford I. Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University (WCMC) develops and implements initiatives designed to engage and educate patients of varying ages and ethnicities with a variety of health conditions in support of making healthcare decisions.  Funding will support the PRC to further its mission of providing patients with information and educational resources by using electronic tablets to expand patients’ information access.  The PRC also seeks support to purchase, format, and load digital content onto tablets including the PRC’s Health Seminar Series and educational materials related for the new “information prescription” (Info Rx) program.  These technologies will enable the PRC to deliver patient-centered resources in ways that are both effective and novel.

Project:  Redesign of East Brunswick Public Library’s Just for the Health of It Community-Wide Health Portal

Awardee:  East Brunswick Public Library, East Brunswick, NJ.

Description:  The East Brunswick Public Library created the Just for the Health of It community-wide health portal in 2011 (www.wcllinks.org), as the cornerstone of the library’s health literacy initiative to encourage healthy living for the residents of our diverse, multicultural community.  The portal is focused on delivering trustworthy health and wellness information to our residents with a local focus.  Since launching in spring 2011, the portal has outgrown its original, custom content management system (CMS) design and would be better served by an open source platform that is dynamic, technically relevant, and responsive to how people use information today. This project will redesign the East Brunswick Public Library’s “Just for the Health of It” community-wide health portal into a flexible, open source platform that would allow librarians to easily maintain and update the site, adding content in a much more timely fashion.  In addition, an open source platform will facilitate the addition of web pages for children, teens and caretakers, and empower the site to offer mobile access to meet the expectations of today’s users.

Date / Time:  September 24th / Noon – 1 pm (ET)

Where:   https://webmeeting.nih.gov/lunch2/

Online / No Registration Required

Medical Librarians – Tell Your Story for a Chance to Win a $1500 Professional Development Award

In preparation to celebrate National Medical Librarians Month we are asking you to send us your stories highlighting any programs, partnerships, or accomplishments you would like to share with your colleagues.  (Please include photos or graphics.) Submissions may include, but are not limited to the following:

Did you:

  • develop a creative way to teach research skills to healthcare professionals?
  • develop a relationship or reach out to a stakeholder, community group or organization that may be unique to what you have done in the past?
  • participate in or develop a program or project that you are proud of and would like to share with your colleagues?
  • receive an award or special recognition for the work you do?
  • develop or participate in an unique service or program for a particular patient population (examples: cancer patients, Alzheimer’s patients, AIDS patients, support group, pet therapy, art therapy etc.)
  • support your organization in their journey to Magnet status?

This is your opportunity to share all that you do and to inspire others! We will post your stories on the MARquee News Blog throughout the month of October.

This year the winning submission will be chosen by you. We will be asking all of you to vote for your favorite entry.  Voting instructions will be posted after the submission deadline, October 23.

The winner will be eligible to receive a professional development award of $1500 that may be used for any conference or class that will further his/her professional development or nurture their interest in the field.

Submission guidelines:

  • Deadline for submissions: October 23
  • Send to: nnlmmar@pitt.edu now through October 23
  • Stories should reflect anything done within the last year (Oct. 2014-Oct. 2015)
  • Word count: whatever you need
  • Multiple entries may be received from the same library or library system, but they will be voted on as separate entries. It will be up to the winning library to determine who will receive the award.
  • We reserve the right to edit submissions but we will not change content.

Stay connected & watch for your story to be featured!

Online DOCLINE Training Series Begins September 2

You are invited to join us for session 1 of our four part DOCLINE webinar series, Wednesday, September 2, 2015, 1:00 p.m.  ET

The DOCLINE Training Series is appropriate for both new DOCLINE users and those who want a refresher.

You do not need to register and it’s FREE!  1 MLA CE is awarded to attendees.

Login: https://webmeeting.nih.gov/memberservices

Class Descriptions:

Beginning DOCLINE: September 2, 2015 / 1 PM (ET)

http://nnlm.gov/ntcc/classes/class_details.html?class_id=21

This class covers the bare essentials of DOCLINE where participants will have an increased understanding of the basic features of DOCLINE. The instructor will give an overview of the layout of the DOCLINE window and will provide a brief description of some of the most commonly used features and their functions.

DOCLINE Routing Tables: September 9, 2015 / 1 PM (ET)

http://nnlm.gov/ntcc/classes/class_details.html?class_id=913

This class will provide an in-depth look into DOCLINE Routing Tables. Participants will learn about using their Borrowing Preferences, brief explanation of copyright compliance, editing Routing Tables, M/A/N Map, setting up Lending Options, and more!

DOCLINE: Serial Holdings: September 16, 2015 / 1 PM (ET)

http://nnlm.gov/ntcc/classes/class_details.html?class_id=911

This class will provide an in-depth look into DOCLINE’s Serial Holdings. Participants will be provided with an introduction to the Serial Holdings database, how to add, remove, and update Holdings, how to run reports, and where to go to get additional Serial Holdings support.  Included in this class is using the embargo feature.

DOCLINE Borrowing and Lending: September 23, 2015 / 1 PM (ET)

http://nnlm.gov/ntcc/classes/class_details.html?class_id=883

This class will provide an in-depth look into DOCLINE Borrowing and Lending. Participants will learn about: using their Borrowing Preferences; the many ways to borrow; how to process request received; how to run and view reports; the different levels of requests (normal, rush, and urgent patient care) and more.

For questions or additional information contact Michelle Burda, MAR Network & Advocacy coordinator: mburda@pitt.edu or James Honour @ jhonour@uwyo.edu

Work for MAR! Position Announcement: Academic Coordinator

The University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences Library System (HSLS) invites applications for the position of Academic Coordinator for the Middle Atlantic Region of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM MAR).   The Academic Coordinator has primary responsibility for designing and evaluating outreach and education programs aimed at academic institutions, with a special focus on community colleges, research universities and colleges/universities with programs in the health sciences, health and science education, library science, emergency management, and environmental health.  We are looking for an energetic, creative, innovative, and service-oriented individual interested in being part of a collaborative team that works together to improve access to and sharing of biomedical and health information resources, with an emphasis on resources produced by the National Library of Medicine.

A complete position announcement including job responsibilities, qualifications, salary/benefits and where to apply may be viewed at: http://www.hsls.pitt.edu/about/positions/

Feel free to share widely with applicable candidates.