HEALTH

Loki the therapy dog is delivering care packages to ICU nurses during the pandemic

Apr 22, 2020, 7:33 AM
...

(CNN) — The sight of nursing scrubs is a surefire way to get Loki wagging her tail.

It’s not something that leaves most dogs panting with excitement. But Loki isn’t your typical dog — she’s a two-year-old Rottweiler therapy dog, or a “dogtor,” as she is otherwise known.

Loki and her owner, Caroline Benzel, have been doing therapy sessions at the University of Maryland Medical Center about three times a week since last December.

“We were doing therapy for the entire hospital system,” said Benzel, a second-year medical student at the University of Maryland. “Whether it be custodians, first responders, nurses, doctors, patients, or even family members in the waiting room.”

But now, the current hospital restrictions have forced them to stop in-person visits.

So they started doing the next best thing: Providing the staff and patients a chance to check-in with their “dogtor” through video conferencing.

“We started contacting people and just checking in and making sure they were doing okay. Then we started doing the FaceTime visits.”

Something to bark about

Benzel and Loki have a special relationship with University of Maryland Medical Center staff. When Loki suffered an ACL injury that required surgery and physical therapy, Benzel, a full-time medical student, had a hard time coming up with the money.

“The hospital suggested that I do a GoFundMe, and they as a whole ended up paying for her entire surgery and her physical therapy,” Benzel said. “I got really close with a lot of the staff over doing the therapy visits and they did that for me in my time of need.”

As their digital “dogtor” therapy sessions continued, Benzel started to see the effects of the staff’s hard work during the pandemic on their faces.

“You can kind of see that wearing PPE for prolonged periods does start rubbing your skin and can start irritating it,” Benzel said. “For me, wearing these masks for short periods of time, it starts to irritate my skin. So, I can only imagine for people wearing it for eight to 10 to 12 plus hours, what kind of damage it can do.”

Benzel knew it was time to take care of those who took care of her — and her dog. She started putting together “Hero Healing Kits” with some self-care essentials. The packages include skin moisturizers, lotions, lip balm, medicated powder, tea and more. And of course, each kit that Benzel puts together has a picture of Loki’s furry face to greet hospital staff members.

On Loki’s social media feed, Benzel appealed for help from the public to create more Hero Kits. The response has been a howling success. So far, she has collected about 4,200 kits between her location in Maryland, and one in Philadelphia.

All items in the kit are travel-size, so workers can store whatever they might need during the day in their pockets. While small in size, the kits are making a big impact on those who receive them.

“The staff has been overwhelmed by the generosity of people.”

Fetching attention

What started out as a pet project is now lengthening its leash and spreading all over the country. Benzel said similar campaigns have started up in New York, New Jersey, California, North Carolina and more.

“I think a lot of people in a time like this feel pretty helpless. They don’t know what they can do to try to support front line workers. When they see something that they can technically do themselves, it can be a game changer,” Benzel said. “This is an easy way for them to make a difference without risking themselves or others in the process. And it truly does make a difference.”

It’s giving Loki a chance to put on her scrubs again as well. She got to tag along during a recent visit to the hospital to drop off 1,200 kits.

“She’s so excited when I put her scrubs on her. Today, I was trying to get the care packages into the car and she was trying to get in the car the whole time. I had to keep pulling her back. She truly is so excited to come to work and be part of the Maryland medical system.”

A “dogtor” that is a hospital’s best friend.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Today’s Top Stories

Health

The Great Salt Lake has reached a historic low level of water....
Waverly Golden

The Great Salt Lake water level reaches a historic low as Utah continues to face extreme drought

Utah is in an extreme drought, causing the Great Salt Lake to reach a historic low level. Over the past 128 years, 2022 has been the driest year to date in Utah.
15 hours ago
Rabies in bats....
Waverly Golden

Utah health officials confirm three cases of rabies in bats

Three cases of rabies in bats have been confirmed in Utah. In each case, pets or humans were exposed and received treatment.
6 days ago
A Rite Aid logo is displayed on its store...
HALELUYA HADERO, AP Reporter

Amazon, Rite Aid cap purchase of emergency contraceptives

Retailers limiting purchases is standard practice that helps retailers prevent stockpiling and reselling at higher prices.
6 days ago
CDC reports monkeypox cases....
Waverly Golden

CDC confirms five monkeypox cases in Utah

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, confirmed a total of five monkeypox cases in Utah Wednesday morning.
7 days ago
A crowd gathers in front of the Utah State Capitol on Friday, June 24, 2022, to protest the U.S. Su...
Becky Bruce

Different abortion law now in effect in Utah

A different abortion law is now in effect in Utah, and it bans abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy. However, there are several exceptions to this law.
8 days ago
Rising temperatures across the country are putting the homeless at risk of heat-related death. Many...
Waverly Golden, Aimee Cobabe

Heat waves bring concerns for heat-related illnesses and the homeless population

Record-breaking heat waves have caused an abundance of heat-related deaths among the homeless.
8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Loki the therapy dog is delivering care packages to ICU nurses during the pandemic