Texas Children’s President and CEO Mark Wallace and his wife, Shannon, recently donated a very special gift to the Texas Children’s Pawsitive Play Program in memory of their beloved black Labrador, Cadence. The Wallaces have generously pledged an initial $80,000 contribution to the program to enable Texas Children’s to hire another animal-assisted therapy coordinator and therapy dog team to provide therapeutic interventions for patients and families in the Legacy Tower.
“Shannon and I are both animal lovers through and through, and we could not think of a better way to honor Cadence than by donating to the Pawsitive Play Program in her memory,” Wallace said. “We were very attached to Cadence, who brought us so much joy before she passed away. We saw what a positive impact Elsa has made on our patients and their families, and we know the addition of a new therapy dog will allow even more of our patients, employees and staff to benefit from this program in the Legacy Tower.”
Since joining Texas Children’s one year ago, Elsa, Texas Children’s first therapy dog, has provided targeted therapeutic interventions to patients and their families in numerous patient care settings at the Texas Children’s medical center campus. The hospital’s second therapy dog will be specifically trained to care for patients and families in the critical care environment.
“The Pawsitive Play program has made an incredible difference in the healing process for our patients and their families,” said Texas Children’s Assistant Vice President Sarah Maytum. “And the impact extends to our employees and physicians as well. Elsa brightens everyone’s day. I often see her in the hallway, surrounded by a crowd of employees who have stopped to greet Elsa as she is on her way to see patients.”
Texas Children’s will again collaborate with Canine Assistants, a non-profit organization in Atlanta, Georgia, that has matched more than 1,500 therapy dogs, including individual and hospital placements. The organization will conduct a site visit to learn more about the critical care areas of the Legacy Tower before selecting the ideal therapy dog for that environment.
Many of the clinical areas that are moving into Legacy Tower have had great success with the Pawsitive Play Program already. Elsa visits the intensive care and progressive care units on a regular basis. While some patients will not be able to receive a visit from the new service dog because of their clinical conditions, the families, visitors and staff throughout Legacy Tower will be able to experience the comfort of our newest therapy dog.
The Wallaces’ contribution will support Texas Children’s second therapy dog and its handler over the 8-year service life of the dog. Texas Children’s plans to have this new furry companion on staff in early 2018. This will allow sufficient time to get the newest furry member of the team oriented and ready for the opening of Legacy Tower.
“Legacy Tower is so distinctive and innovative,” Wallace said. “It is being equipped with the most advanced technology and much larger, family-centered critical care spaces. It will complement the hospital’s existing ORs and radiology services, and will be home to Texas Children’s No. 1 ranked Heart Center. With so much to look forward to, Shannon and I thought it would be great to bring a special new therapy dog to the patients we will care for in our new critical care tower. We are so fortunate to be able to do something like this, and we both can’t wait to welcome our new friend.”