Four-Legged Team Member Joins Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children to Bring Healing and Hope to Patients
2-Year-Old Labrador Retriever is the Hospital’s First Facility Dog
Orlando, FL (March 21, 2022) -- Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children is proud to announce the arrival of its first-ever facility dog, Parks, a 2-year-old male Labrador retriever. Parks joins the hospital’s child life team to help bring healing, comfort and fun to chronic and critically ill patients, their families and team members. Orlando Health Arnold Palmer received Parks at no cost from Canine Companions®, an organization that has trained and provided facility dogs to professionals working in healthcare, criminal justice and educational settings since 1975.
Facility dogs undergo a two-year extensive and specialized training where they learn more than 40 commands that allow them to interact with and calm patients and staff appropriately. They can also perform helpful tasks, such as pulling toy wagons, pushing drawers and retrieving items. Facility dogs differ from therapy dogs or service animals in that they are trained beyond the role of a comfort animal, and handlers must complete a two-week, full-time training course. Facility dogs also must receive special certification through a national standardized practical test and return for follow-up assessments on a periodic basis.
Kimberly Burbage has been a child life specialist at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer for 15 years and stepped into her new role as Parks’ handler earlier this year. “I have been interested in creating this program at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer for several years and am excited to be able to incorporate Parks into the hospital journey of our patients and families. Parks and I were matched together by Canine Companions and, even though we’ve only been working together for a month, I can already see the impact he is making with our children and adolescents,” said Burbage. “I’m so grateful for the opportunity to partner with Parks in bringing some great therapeutic benefit and normalcy to the patients here at the hospital.”
Monday through Friday Parks will provide emotional support for patients and families who may be struggling with their illness or diagnosis. He will also serve as a motivator for patients to reach certain goals and milestones. When he’s off the clock, Parks lives full time with Burbage.
The cost of training and support for a facility dog like Parks is about $50,000, but Canine Companions depends on the support of donors and volunteers to help provide them free of charge.
ABOUT ORLANDO HEALTH ARNOLD PALMER HOSPITAL FOR CHILDREN
Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children is a 156-bed facility dedicated exclusively to the needs of children. Orlando Health Arnold Palmer provides expertise in pediatric specialties such as cardiac care, craniomaxillofacial surgery, gastroenterology, nephrology, neurology, oncology, orthopedics, pulmonology and sports medicine. The Bert Martin’s Champions for Children Emergency Department & Trauma Center at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer is part of the only Level One Trauma Center in the area, and is the first facility in Central Florida to provide emergency care exclusively for pediatric patients. Visit www.arnoldpalmerhospital.com to learn more about all of our specialties.
ABOUT CANINE COMPANIONS
Founded in 1975,Canine Companions is a nonprofit organization that provides specially trained service dogs to adults, children and veterans with disabilities to help them lead more independent lives. It also provides facility dogs to professionals working in healthcare, criminal justice, and educational settings. All dogs and all follow-up services are provided at no cost to clients. Since its founding, more than 7,100 human-dog teams have graduated from the program.