04 de junio de 2020
English - News

Dog helping medical personnel at Mexican hospital relieve stress

Mexico City, May 18 (efe-epa).- A small 3-year-old dog, a pug, is playing an important role at a Mexican hospital to help healthcare personnel relieve the stress and anxiety of their long, exhausting days filled with daily deaths from the coronavirus.

Two pairs of booties, protection goggles and a small green waterproof "raincoat" make up the uniform of Harley, who at least every third day visits the health care workers at the November 20 National Medical Center, one of the public hospitals specifically designated to treat Covid-19 cases.

Harley's owner, Dr. Lucia Ledesma Torres, who is responsible for canine therapy at the hospital, said that his job is to simply be with medical personnel who have scheduled consultations for psychological exhaustion, sleep problems, anxiety and symptoms of physical and work-related exhaustion - "better known as burnout," she noted.

Therapy with animals is a tool that has become popular in some hospitals, including the November 20 center, and it's also used in pediatric oncology since it helps patients reduce their levels of anxiety, distress and depression.

In a chat with EFE, Ledesma said that mental health is an "historically forgotten" issue, especially among health care professionals.

However, in situations of collective crisis is when the importance of having pre-prepared strategies to deal with these kinds of problems becomes clear.

She said that especially during the ongoing fight against the coronavirus - which in Mexico has infected at least 49,000 people and killed 5,177 - medical personnel have been the victims of significant psychological problems.

That's where "One-Eyed Harley," who lost an eye in an accident a little over a year ago, has been playing a key role since he began working as a therapy dog at the hospital in February to counteract - at least partially - the psychological stress doctors and nurses are feeling due to the fear of becoming infected with the sometimes deadly virus and/or having to remain apart from their families for fear of infecting them.

"The responses we're seeing have exceeded our expectations. He had expected a favorable response but not on the level we're having. The personnel react with surprise, curiosity, they play with him, they make videocalls (with him) to their relatives and that makes them feel closer to them. It's an immediate effect," she said.

Harley, who begins his workdays at 5 am, meets with health care personnel to provide a few minutes of affectionate togetherness. He lets himself be held, petted and pampered by nurses, orderlies, paramedics and physicians who want to see him.

Ledesma, who is a specialist in neuropsychology, clinical psychology and psychopathology, said that the dog comes to the hospital before people begin their workshifts, since it's right at that time that the biggest levels of stress among the personnel have been detected.

However, to be able to provide this kind of therapy, Ledesma said that animals must have certain characteristics such as a friendly disposition, allow people to get close to them, to be well-behaved, to learn quickly and to enjoy continuous social contact.

Despite the fact that Harley has almost three years of experience providing therapy to people with psychological and psychiatric problems, Ledesma acknowledged that this has been his most complicated project "due to the characteristics of the pandemic" and for which he had to receive some special training.

But she added that right from the start Harley has been able to "reduce the symptoms of anxiety and stress" among the hospital personnel.

So she did not rule out that at some point this kind of therapy could be introduced to other hospitals, although she admitted that this would be somewhat complicated because it requires an interdisciplinary team along with animals who have characteristics like Harley, who amid the turmoil has become one of the heroes fighting the pandemic.




Histórico de noticias
Daily COVID-19 pandemic roundup: June 3

Miami Desk, Jun 3 (efe-epa).- Here's a roundup of stories around the world related to the novel coronavirus pandemic:

Expert panel: Pandemic shows fighting "fake news" should be joint effort

Santiago, Jun 3 (efe-epa).- Announcements on the social and media networks promoting ingesting chlorine to cure Covid-19 have shown that "fake news" can be...

Evolution of pandemic in South, Central America of great concern to WHO

Geneva, Jun 3 (efe-epa).- The World Health Organization on Wednesday said that the evolution of the coronavirus pandemic in South and Central America is of...

Pentagon chief contradicts Trump by rejecting military deployment in US

Washington, Jun 3 (efe-epa).- Defense Secretary Mark Esper attempted to distance himself from President Donald Trump on Wednesday by saying that he does not...

Family-ordered autopsy confirms George Floyd died of asphyxiation

Washington, Jun 1 (efe-epa).- Two autopsies on George Floyd, the African American man who died exactly a week ago while being arrested by white Minneapolis...

Daily COVID-19 pandemic roundup: June 1

Miami Desk, Jun 1 (efe-epa).- Here's a roundup of stories around the world related to the novel coronavirus pandemic:

Boston ex-police chief: The problem's not the police, it's systemic racism

By Jairo Mejia

4 Brazilian states begin reopening with cases, deaths still on the rise

Sao Paulo, Jun 1 (efe-epa).- Several cities in the Brazilian states of Sao Paulo, Ceara, Amazonas and Para - four of the regions hardest hit by the...

Daily COVID-19 pandemic roundup: May 31

Miami Desk, May 31 (efe-epa).- Here's a roundup of stories around the world related to the novel coronavirus pandemic:

Pro- and anti-Bolsonaro forces clash in Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo, May 31 (efe-epa).- Groups supporting and opposing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro clashed on Sunday in violent disturbances amid the political...

Police behavior stirring up violence amid US protests

Washington, May 31 (efe-epa).- Across the United States on Sunday, local authorities strengthened security measures to prepare for new after-dark riots and...

SpaceX Dragon capsule docks with International Space Station

(Update: Adds comments by crew and NASA officials)

Daily COVID-19 pandemic roundup: May 28

Miami Desk, May 28 (efe-epa).- Here's a roundup of stories around the world related to the novel coronavirus pandemic:

With 101,000 deaths, US still unable to slow spread of coronavirus

Washington, May 28 (efe-epa).- The United States, now with more than 101,000 official deaths from Covid-19, on Thursday still has not been able to halt the...

FBI giving top priority to black man's death at hands of Minneapolis police

Washington, May 28 (efe-epa).- The US Department of Justice and the FBI on Thursday issued a joint statement saying that they will undertake a "robust...

Migrants held in US detention centers at the mercy of COVID-19

By Alex Segura Lozano and Laura Barros

Daily COVID-19 pandemic roundup: May 27

Miami Desk, May 27 (efe-epa).- Here's a roundup of stories around the world related to the novel coronavirus pandemic:

NASA-SpaceX launch to International Space Station scrubbed due to weather

Miami, May 27 (efe-epa).- The historic launch of the NASA-SpaceX manned mission to the International Space Station from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida...

Brazil's economic engine announces responsible resumption of activities

By Maria Angelica Troncoso

Expert: Pandemic revealing labor exploitation as in US slavery period

By Jorge Ignacio Perez

Daily COVID-19 pandemic roundup: May 26

Miami Desk, May 26 (efe-epa).- Here's a roundup of stories around the world related to the novel coronavirus pandemic:

Florida expresses interest in hosting GOP conclave if Trump cancels NC event

Miami, May 26 (efe-epa).- Florida's Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, said that his state would love to host the Republican National Convention this summer...

Brazil, its image abroad marred, suffering record capital flight

By Carla Samon Ros

FBI investigating death of black man arrested by white cop

(Update: Adds identity of victim, firing of 4 police officers)