Kali and Leiha winning hearts and making friends

Ears were scratched, heads were stroked, and paws were offered in friendship when Kali and Leiha, Latrobe Regional Health’s (LRH) visiting therapy dogs recently accepted a new sponsorship deal.

Integrated facilities management company BGIS has agreed to support the work of Kali and Leiha for the next six months meaning their efforts to reduce stress for staff, visitors and patients will continue.

“We’ve had a long-term relationship with the hospital providing facility management and when we were approached to support Kali and Leiha and their handler Sharyn, we were happy to come on board,” BGIS President and Managing Director Dana Nelson said.

“We’ve got 14 people on site covering different services across the built environment, all helping contribute to the shared vision which is good outcomes for local patients.

“With that in mind, you can see the positive impact Kali and Leiha have on people, so we’re delighted to support them in bringing smiles to faces and hopefully lowering any anxiety people might be feeling about being in hospital, visiting a loved one or from the staff’s point of view, reducing some of the stress that builds up over a shift,” Dana said.

As part of the sponsorship, Kali and Leiha will wear special coats bearing their names, their roles and acknowledging BGIS support.

Kali and Leiha have been visiting LRH for just over 12 months under the care of their handler Sharyn Thompson.

“We visit ED and as many of the wards as we can as well as areas like Allied Health. I always ask each person if they would like to say hello to the girls. From there people just love to stroke them or give them a pat – people of all ages and backgrounds really,” Sharyn said.

“Kids especially love to meet them, and it often distracts them from what is happening.”

“You can see faces light up and if there is any stress around meeting a dog, it soon evaporates as people realise how friendly and lovely they are.”

LRH is grateful the dog therapy program is able to continue thanks to the generosity of BGIS.

“Seeing BGIS so eagerly support the sponsorship idea reminds us they are more than just building managers, electricians and plumbers fixing things. They are a part of the LRH team as well. They’re just as invested in getting the best result for patients and visitors as we all are,” LRH Executive Director People and Culture Mark Wilkins said.