ER doctor has comfort dog on the front lines to soothe health care workers during coronavirus

Courtesy Dr. Susan Ryan(DENVER) — When hospital workers face the untold stress of an unprecedented health care challenge this furry friend is sharing puppy love to help ease their burden.

Wynn is a service dog in training that’s delivering mental health breathers at Rose Medical Center in Denver. Emergency room staffers cuddle with the yellow Labrador in one-minute meditation sessions, providing a moment of escape before running back to the fight against COVID-19.

“She has the ability to really calm people down,” said Susan Ryan, Wynn’s trainer and an emergency room physician at the hospital. “We’re working in a unique time and she helps us stay grounded.”

Ryan has been training Wynn for 11 months now. She brings her four-legged friend to work regularly, but the dog’s lovable energy has been a particularly welcome sight in recent days.

“Our whole team has been very stressed lately,” said Ryan. “We needed to come up with a way to manage each other’s anxiety during this difficult time.”

Ryan got together with a co-worker and set aside office space where nurses and doctors could grab a warm blanket, sit down with Wynn and relax for a moment — all to the tune of guided meditation playing in the background.

“One of our staffers was crying and truly overwhelmed with everything that’s been going on so we had her go into the office with Wynn and it changed her immediately,” said Ryan.

She added Wynn’s collar and leash are cleaned regularly as a precaution and everyone is required to wash their hands before each session.

The 1-year-old dog is having an impact on lives outside the ER, too. Ryan’s photo of her sitting on the hospital floor with Wynn posted to Instagram Sunday has since gone viral.

“She has saved us because we are very stressed and anxious. Sometimes too busy to be scared,” Ryan wrote in the post. “We can find comfort in each other when we know I have your back and you have mine.”

Wynn is being trained by Ryan on behalf of Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit that provides assistance dogs to adults and children with disabilities — free of charge. As a board member of the organization, Ryan frequently takes pups on before they’re placed with owners.

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