Pet therapy providing a boost for caregivers in Ascension Via Christi COVID 19 unit

When an Ascension Tennessee colleague shared photos of a pet wall in their COVID-19 unit, Sara Herridge, Ascension Kansas' director of Nursing Transformation, passed it on to Lindsay Holman, RN.

In turn, Holman, nursing lead for one of Ascension Via Christi St. Francis' two dedicated COVID-19 units, shared it with her team and they couldn't wait to get started.

In less than a month, one wall was filled and a second one started.

"This has become a bigger hit than I thought it would be," says Holman, with physicians and other providers serving in the unit bringing in pictures of their pets to put on the wall. The two pet walls include 66 pet photos, mostly dogs, but some cats and even a turtle, ferrets, dove and some chickens.

A temporary stencil noting that "One of God's greatest gifts is the love of a pet" adorns one of the pet walls, surrounded by framed pet photos. Beside it is a bulletin board with cards and letters from grateful patients and patient family members.

Lindsay Holman, RN, in front of the COVID-19 unit pet wall
Lindsay Holman, RN, in front of the COVID-19 unit pet wall

Holman says in retrospect, her team's response is not that surprising. One of the questions she posed to each member during a recent check-in was about what they were doing to manage their stress and so many of the responses involved time and activities with their pets.

"Now when you walk down the hall, it just makes you smile," says Holman. "It's a little space where you can get a reprieve from all the stress."

As for Holman, she's contributed photos of her Boston terrier, Chloe, and pug, Marie, together and individually, providing the next best thing to taking your dogs to work.