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CHAPTER 9 Transformative Evolution > TREATING THE WHOLE PERSON

TREATING THE WHOLE PERSON

PEOPLE-ANIMAL CONNECTION

In 1994, UCLA was among the first hospitals in its area to explore the possibility that the presence of animals could have positive benefits in a hospital environment. According to Jack Barron, Jr., director, UCLA People-Animal Connection (PAC), “It started with a fish tank and, later on, a dog visit on the cardiac care unit.” Anecdotally, the presence of animals seemed to reduce heart rate, improve respiration, and lower blood pressure for patients who were awaiting a heart transplant. Jack notes, “For the moments that the dog was on the patient’s bed, that person was not thinking about surgery or the prospect of a transplant.”

But anecdotal findings would not necessarily sustain a novel program at UCLA, so the original director of PAC, Kathie Cole, RN, MS, CCRN, set out to explore the empirical benefit of the human-animal bond. According to Kathie, “What compelled me to pursue the research study itself was the attitude conveyed to me and several others before and during the development of the current People-Animal Connection program at UCLA Medical Center. The concept of doing a ‘dog visit’ was considered ‘nice’ or ‘cute,’ when in fact it was much more than a thoughtful gesture. I believed that it was important to establish scientific evidence to show specific psychological and physiological effects.”


  

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