The COVID pandemic has affected our lives in many different ways. Some of us have been fortunate in that the crisis has not seriously impacted our lives but there are many others, less fortunate, who have been severely impacted. As the COVID deaths, illness, job loss, furlough and mental trauma increases during the pandemic so does the level of anxiety, emotional duress, depression, and loneliness for many of our families, friends and neighbors.
My role as a health care professional is to take care of the people that need my help. I always look for additional ways to increase my level of commitment to my patients. One way I chose to do more was to help my patients’ extended family – in this case the many pets who have been dislocated or left stranded due to my patients’ hospitalization.
We know pets provide us with unconditional love, a friend who is always loyal to us. For some, pets are companions and service animals. Medical professionals recognize that pets can aid in medical treatment and recovery as part of a wholistic form of therapy. According to Northwell Health’s Madalyn Frank-Cooper, “pet therapy increasingly is being utilized to help people with behavioral health issues, autism, post- traumatic stress disorder and depression.” Frank-Cooper, who oversees the pet therapy program at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills Hospital believes, “petting an animal has a lowering effect on your heart rate and blood pressure, especially in anxious patients.” I thought I could do more to help my patients by helping the many pets who have been adversely impacted by the pandemic by selling masks and donating to no kill animal shelters.
In March I contacted my mother, a retired first grade seamstress, to share my experiences at the Northwell Health COVID-19 Testing Center where I was redeployed, here is the link to my story.
Moved by the stories I shared, my mother asked how she too could help. We both agreed – she would make masks at home and would give them away. Within a month, from home on her old sewing machine, she made approximately 200 masks that were given to a local hospital in Washington State. I donated masks to my coworkers at the Northwell Health COVID-19 Testing Center.
We then decided to sell masks and donate 20 % of the sale price to no-kill animal shelters in order to help fight against animal cruelty and to increase the chances for adopting and fostering an animal. According to a recent article in the New York Daily News, “Animal Care Centers of NYC has rescued about 40 pets whose owners died of COVID-19 during the crisis.” One hopes that these pets will soon be adopted and when they are they might provide their new family with widely recognized benefits to one’s mental and physical health.
To me, helping an animal is an extension of my commitment to caring for the many patients I see who have been impacted by the virus. I want my patients to know that I care about their health from a wholistic point, including the well-being of their pets. As a health care professional I take pride in providing the best care for my patients and I am committed to making sure an animal’s life is comfortable too. It brings me the great satisfaction knowing that I’m doing all I can to address my patient’s needs, including their pets by donating as much as I can to various animal shelters. There are so many ways we can help alleviate the hardships our community of patients are dealing with, and this is one of the ways my mother and I are trying to make a difference because pets are family too.
- Chandra Freeman
These are two articles I used in preparing this essay.