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Nurse helps Chilton pet therapy program take first steps

Monday February 10, 2014
Bill Schaefer is one of the first patients to enjoy Chilton Hospital’s new pet therapy program. He is joined by OR nurse Lorrel Boughton, RN (at left); Chilton Vice President and CNO Joanne Reich, RN, DNPc,, MA, NEA-BC; and Brodie.
Bill Schaefer is one of the first patients to enjoy Chilton Hospital’s new pet therapy program. He is joined by OR nurse Lorrel Boughton, RN (at left); Chilton Vice President and CNO Joanne Reich, RN, DNPc,, MA, NEA-BC; and Brodie.
(Photo courtesy of Chilton Hospital)
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Lorrel Boughton, RN, an OR nurse at Chilton Hospital, Pompton Plains, N.J., has been visiting patients with certified pet therapy dog, Brodie, as part of a new program, according to a news release.

The duo recently visited patients on a fourth floor med/surg unit who opted for the therapy, and then headed downstairs to the surgical services waiting room to ease anxiety for visitors.

Brodie was “like a magnet. Everybody in the hallways and lobby wanted to pet him,” Boughton said in the release.

Boughton began training Brodie at the Ramapo Kennel Club in Butler, N.J., when he was four months old. At a year, he was eligible to take the pet therapy class leading to certification after he passed a test.

The certification process is quite comprehensive, according to Boughton.

“The instructors bang pots and pans and ring doorbells to test the dogs’ calmness,” she said. “In one of the exercises you have to say, ‘stay,’ then leave the room for three minutes and come back. Also, they’ll approach the dogs using wheelchairs and crutches and other things you’d expect them to be exposed to in a healthcare setting to make sure they react appropriately.”

Brodie, who is now two years old, has visited Cedar Crest Village in Pompton Plains, Morristown (N.J.) Medical Center and its associated Atlantic Rehabilitation Institute. He also has made appearances at a reading group for children with autism. In addition to pet therapy for patients, Morristown Medical Center also holds “Ruff Days,” which are therapy dog visits to help ease the anxiety of hospital employees.

Before Brodie could visit Chilton, he needed a veterinarian’s clearance. Boughton discussed the service with Chilton’s administration and the infection control department. The medical board then had to approve the visits.

Dog trainers from Ramapo Kennel Club will visit Chilton in the near future with their dogs to help expand the program, according to the release.


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