Patient John Nice gives a treat to Pepperoni, or Pepe, a therapy dog who visited veteran patients at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital June 21.
The visit was a new spin on the Vet to Vet program, which matches healthcare providers who are veterans with veteran patients. The "Pet to Vet" debut was met with enthusiasm from the patients and providers alike.
WVU Medicine adopted the Vet to Vet program in late 2016 to help healthcare professionals gain a better understanding of issues veterans face while being treated in civilian hospitals.
Providers who are veterans visit the patients, acknowledge their military service, offer support, and act as a liaison between the patient and their healthcare team.
At any one time, Ruby may have 35-40 veteran patients receiving care, many whom have combat experience.
The program was initiated by Gina Maiocco, PhD, RN, the head of nursing research in the WVU School of Nursing. Through her research on veterans seeking care in civilian hospitals, Dr. Maiocco has found that veteran patients are at a higher risk for PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), combative behaviors, addiction, and anesthesia delirium.