Editor’s note: Chiver and Bethany Clark are available for interviews
Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital, in partnership with Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services (PAALS), recently welcomed a new team member who specializes in providing a calming experience while motivating children to focus on therapy. Chiver, a 2-year-old yellow lab and golden retriever mix, comes to work daily with physical therapist Bethany Clark.
Chiver was matched with Clark through PAALS, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to training service dogs for children and adults with physical limitations, autism and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as facility dogs and skilled home companions for those who are home bound.
“Dogs like Chiver are specially trained for their environment and are able to help people improve in different aspects of their lives,” said Jennifer Rogers, PAALS executive director. “Sometimes the breakthroughs happen without patients even realizing it. It’s amazing to watch. The dogs are special and work to provide assistance depending on their job."
Facility dogs like Chiver are trained in obedience and special cues. The dogs are then matched with a professional partner who integrates the dog into the work environment and goals of participants. Chiver has been trained in specific behaviors and techniques which enable him to serve as a tool and a motivator, thus enhancing the accomplishment of goals. Dogs that assist physical therapists increase patients’ participation as they engage in a canine assisted activity that often turns tough physical activities into positive interactions and more successful repetitions.
“Seeing how much more motivated kids can be when working with a dog was very exciting,” said Clark. “The families get to experience all the positive benefits of having a dog. Chiver is super calming for children with anxiety and autism. We look forward to seeing him build a bond with children from week to week.”
The dogs can physically interact with patients to provide comfort and love in ways that medical caregivers and therapists cannot. Research shows that canine assisted therapy can lessen the physical and psychological stress of children.
“Having Chiver here has been great because of the motivation he brings to the children,” said Adair King, supervisor, Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital Outpatient Physical and Specialty Therapy. “He brings renewed energy that you can see in the children’s eyes. Chiver gives the children something to look forward to each time they get to come.”
About Palmetto Health
Palmetto Health, the largest health care system in the South Carolina Midlands region and one of the state’s largest employers, comprises more than 14,000 team members, physicians and volunteers working together to fulfill Palmetto Health’s Vision: To be remembered by each patient as providing the care and compassion we want for our families and ourselves. The system includes six acute-care hospitals in the Midlands—Palmetto Health Baptist, Palmetto Health Baptist Parkridge, Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital, Palmetto Health Heart Hospital, Palmetto Health Richland and Palmetto Health Tuomey. In the South Carolina Upstate region, Palmetto Health also co-owns Baptist Easley Hospital. Recognized nationally as one of the best places to work and receive care, the system also includes the Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group, the region’s largest multispecialty group, which serves as the entry point to the health care system with more than 500 providers serving patients in more than 80 practices and nearly 100 locations. Palmetto Health also is supported by two 501 (c)(3) foundations, and trains the next generation of physicians through its 24 residency and fellowship programs affiliated with the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. For more information, visit PalmettoHealth.org or call 803-296-CARE (2273).