Northridge Hospital pet therapy dogs spread a little canine affection at LAX
easing passenger anxiety. Hello humankindness.
Humankindness is powerful medicine. In fact, we believe it holds the power to heal. When we say hello with a smile, when we listen, when we show each other humankindness, we become stronger people. And that’s why we are championing humanity in every healthcare conversation and every personal experience for each person who walks through the door.
Science now proves that while medicine cures, it’s humanity that holds the power to heal.
Dignity Health, Northridge Hospital Medical Center’s parent company, has launched a campaign called "Hello humankindness" to share stories of compassion, caring and hope. Here are a few ways we are spreading humankindness to patients, families and the community.
Warming Bodies and Souls
Blanket donations warm the body, heart and soul.
Each month, Northridge Hospital volunteers Kristie Koenig and Ginny Mills and volunteer associate Renee Rigley help spread warmth around the globe by donating hundreds of fleece blankets to those in need.
Recipients include those living in homeless and women’s shelters, U.S. troops overseas and patients at Northridge Hospital. These women belong to Shepherd of the Hills Church where dozens pitch in to deliver meals to Skid Row and make scarves and blankets, which are labeled with a blessing.
“Some patients are so moved, that they will ask us to sit and pray with them,” says Renee who is chairman of the church’s Blanket Ministry. “The response we receive is so touching and moving.”
Dog-tors Who Heal
A visit from a friendly dog-tor can be just the right medicine.
Accompanied by their owner-volunteers, Paws That Refresh pet therapy dogs act as humankindness ambassadors delivering unconditional love to our patients, families and staff. Pet therapy’s tail-wagging benefits are vast. It’s proven to improve memory, decrease blood pressure and ease pain.
All Fur Dogs
Cherry Teter is living a “dog’s life.”
As a Northridge Hospital pet therapy volunteer and puppy trainer for Guide Dogs of America, she knows first-hand the life-changing affect these canine companions have on others. Cherry has trained 19 dogs thus far, whose breeds range from German Shepherds to Golden Retrievers.
For 18 months, she provides basic obedience and socialization training before they are presented to visually impaired men and women. “Giving the dogs away after their training period is hard, but it’s one bad day in the entire year and a half that you have them,’’ says Cherry. “You go home and cry, but by then, you have a new puppy to train.”
Support for the Soul
Comfort comes in many forms—soothing words, a cup of tea, a silent embrace. As a Spiritual Care Services Volunteer, Martha Butler extends humankindness to patients and families no matter their religion or spiritual path. From the time a patient arrives in the Emergency Department (ED) or Trauma Center, Spiritual Care volunteers offer spiritual guidance and support.
“The doctors and nurses are in charge of the lifesaving, technical aspects of patient care, but sometimes patients want prayer and supportive listening,” says Martha, who is a Stephen Minister with specialized training in critical incident stress management. Martha may also offer a blessing, stand at the bedside with a patient’s loved one or provide a silent, yet comforting presence.
“Human touch is priceless,” she shares. “With a hug or the touch of a hand, people know they are not alone. For example, Martha met with a group of about 20 who wanted a prayer at a patient’s bedside. “Holding hands, we formed a prayer circle,” she recalls. “It was a very moving experience with many tears shed.”
As an advocate for the patient and family, Spiritual Care volunteers meet with families privately to update them on their loved one’s condition. “If the patient transfers to the Critical Care Unit (CCU), we don’t just point the family to the elevator, we personally walk them upstairs, and stay as long as needed,” says Martha. Sometimes ED staff needs debriefing too.
“Especially now that Northridge Hospital is a Pediatric Trauma Center, heartbreaking situations occur when staff needs help coping emotionally,” says Martha. “I’ll come in anytime for them. What I do pales in comparison to their incredible skills and loyalty.” In turn, many staff members have shared their appreciation for these volunteers.
“The support they provide for the staff with their kindness helps re-center their calling,” shares Charmine Navarro, RN MSN, CEN, Clinical Manager, Emergency Services. “They are an asset to the Hospital and surrounding community.” Spiritual Care is a vital component of Northridge Hospital and Dignity Health’s mission.
Humankindness is at the heart of all we do at Northridge Hospital. That’s why over the past 12 years, we’ve awarded grants totaling $2,688,600 to 78 non-profit organizations who benefit the community via the Northridge Hospital/Dignity Health Community Grant Program. And in fiscal year 2013 --- in just 12 months --- we provided nearly $62 million in financial assistance, community benefit and unreimbursed patient care.
The Leavey Cancer Center’s “Reaching Out” events, and provide free educational outreach, fitness exams, health screenings and cooking classes at schools in underserved high need communities via our School Wellness Initiative that reaches 34 schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The Cancer Center also makes available free mammograms and prostate screenings to the underinsured.
We also offer free cholesterol, blood pressure and depression screenings at community health fairs and the Northridge Fashion Center; and free support groups, car seat checks and educational classes right here at Northridge Hospital. These acts of kindness are just a few of many ways we are staying true to our mission to help others live healthier, happier lives.