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Animals whose job is to reduce stress for hospital and clinic staff and patients come in all shapes and sizes.
At Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD), miniature horses are another resource for coping with stress and optimizing staff’s day-to-day performance in unconventional yet effective ways.
Just by being there, these small, furry creatures (about 30 inches tall and weighing 250-300 pounds) look like facility dogs used in military medical facilities and elsewhere in uniform. shows that it can reduce stress and anxiety for staff and patients. Faculty of Medicine, University of the Service.
Mini horses, and sometimes mini donkeys, are also very popular at NMCSD. Animals on military installations were actually called to work at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when medical demands were at their highest among overworked and mentally vulnerable staff.
Their owner, Judy Lee Beckett, hails from a ranch outside of San Diego and has made sure that the horses can come to the NMCSD courtyard for lunch, including using personal protective equipment and maintaining physical distancing. We have taken all necessary public health and safety precautions.
“The health and wellness of our team of medical professionals is NMCSD’s number one priority,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Kimberly Davis, director of the hospital. “Walking in the courtyard and coming across these little horses will brighten anyone’s day.”
She added: Volunteer support is greatly appreciated, especially during her COVID-19 time, when we all benefited from the fresh air and fun distractions. ”
If the pandemic has proven one thing, it’s that doctors, nurses, and medical staff need to be in an emotionally healthy place to be effective with their patients.
Advocates of military equine therapy see the value of interacting with horses and recovering military personnel, such as the full-sized horse program at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Beckett also uses full-size horses on her ranch for the recovery of military personnel, staff and families, and has established a relationship with NMCSD since 2008.
For both mini-sized and full-sized creatures, the horse’s ability to draw people away from themselves with its mere presence and kindness has become a ritual for many within the NMCSD grounds and has even spread beyond its gates. It’s the long-awaited draw. To the nearby naval fleet concentration area.
Researchers have found that horses and humans tend to coordinate their physiological responses to emotional stimuli. It’s called “mirroring”. Similar phenomena are observed in other animals. Studies show that simply stroking a dog or cat lowers blood pressure and increases levels of the so-called “feel good” hormones oxytocin and dopamine.
“There’s something truly magical about these horses’ ability to empathize with us without being able to utter a word,” says NMCSD Certified Therapy Recreation Specialist and advocate for the program. , says Kim Kobayashi Elliott, who has worked with many Becketts. Year.
“The importance of just taking the time to stop, pause, and look around to appreciate your horse is pretty amazing,” she said.
“Animals have a way of accepting you unconditionally, and people are more at ease,” Elliott said. “They can tell animals anything, right? They don’t break secrets. That’s what these animals do for us.”
Learn about TRICARE’s hippotherapy range. Hippotherapy provides a means of physical activity for people with disabilities to help develop balance, posture, coordination, positive attitudes, and a sense of accomplishment through the use of horses and horses. Physical or occupational therapist.