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therapy dog and nurse

Michaela Kopp, RN, with Charles P


SRC patients, staff, celebrate retriever’s return 

On Aug. 31, Charles P, a golden retriever, padded down the Verdi 4 hallway for the first therapy dog visit to the Saint Raphael Campus in over 18 months. Staff members and patients were waiting for him. 

As the doors to the Center for Restorative Care for Older Adults unit opened, patient Thomas DiLieto grinned and held out his arms to welcome the dog. Within seconds, he was scratching behind a very contented Charles P’s ears. 

“I could do this all day,” said DiLieto, who grew up with German shepherds.

“He’ll let you,” replied Rose Lynch, Charles P’s owner. 

Restrictions during the height of COVID-19 prevented therapy dogs and their owners from visiting patients, although Volunteer Services organized some outdoor therapy dog events for staff. With many of those restrictions lifted, Virginia Kulig, volunteer coordinator, began arranging therapy dog visits to certain non-COVID patient care areas upon request. Kulig asks unit leaders who would like dog teams to visit their units to contact her so she can determine if a visit is appropriate. The dogs’ owners are fully vaccinated and strictly follow safety protocols. Lynch had patients and staff use hand sanitizer spray before and after petting Charles P. 

She said she and her dog were enjoying their visit to Verdi 4 West as much as the staff and patients were.  

“This is our first time back in a long time. Watching the patients’ faces light up when they see the dog – there’s nothing like it.”

Clinical managers who would like to request a therapy dog visit for their staff and patients should contact Kulig directly at [email protected], or 203-688-6449.

therapy dog
On Aug. 31, therapy dog Charles P and his owner, Rose Lynch, visited the Center for Restorative Care for Older Adults unit (Verdi 4 West). It was the first therapy dog visit to the Saint Raphael Campus in over 18 months.