Furry medicine makes all the difference at Blacktown Hospital

The healing power of an animal should never be underestimated. This rings especially true for Blacktown Hospital patient Grant Hews, who was admitted in late December with COVID-19 and other underlying health issues.

Grant’s 16-year-old Maltese terrier Echo, an animal-assisted therapy dog, has been by Grant’s side since he was a pup. The bond between the two of them is so strong that Echo doesn’t leave Grant’s side.

Echo not only brings comfort but has in the past saved his owner’s life. When Grant fell into a diabetic coma, Echo alerted the family to his sudden deterioration in health.

Grant cherishes his visits with Echo.

So it’s no surprise that when Grant was admitted to hospital in December, both Echo and his beloved owner were lost without each other.

Echo stopped eating and drinking, wouldn’t let anyone in Grant’s room and waited continually by the front door for his owner to return home. Grant also missed his best mate and required Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admission on two occasions.

Once Grant’s condition improved and he was moved out of ICU, staff at Blacktown Hospital went above and beyond to reunite him with his beloved Echo.

“When Grant was moved to a ward, he received such a wonderful surprise when Echo jumped onto his hospital bed,” said Nimeshkumar Patel, gastroenterology nurse unit manager for Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospitals.

Therapy dogs can really improve patient outcomes; I’ve seen it several times. It’s nice that we’ve been able to facilitate Echo to come in for regular visits. It really makes Grant’s day!”

Nimeshkumar Patel

As a registered therapy dog, Echo received a special exemption to visit. He was washed before each visit and sat on a towel on Grant’s bed.

Animal-assisted therapy dogs communicate through body language, helping their owners with various things including communicating with other people.

Both Grant and Echo are now doing well – Grant is still in hospital recovering and Echo is eating and drinking normally again.

We wish Grant well and hope he is soon fully reunited with Echo at home!