Matthew wondered: If a program like HUP's Pups can exist for patients, why couldn't a similar program be developed to help the staff?
That's why she founded Pet the Pooch, a program that teams the hospital with the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. SPCA staff members bring shelter cats and dogs to the hospital about once a month to give doctors, nurses, and other staff a chance to interact with the animals.
It's not only a stress-reliever (and a chance to get some unconditional and unquestioning affection), but has also sometimes resulted in the rescue animals getting adopted.
Although the way HUP is helping to reduce stress among its caregivers is interesting, there's another reason for telling this story: It illuminates the importance of a nurse like Matthew being able to successfully conceptualize, develop, and implement such a program. That's because HUP's nurse leaders aim to encourage all nurses, regardless of rank, to bring their ideas forward, and when they do, those ideas are treated with respect and seriousness, Matthew says.
"I felt very comfortable taking this to my director and proposing this to her," she says. "What's the worst they could say, no?" Moreover, Matthew says the culture of HUP is such that all nurses are treated like important players in hospital goings-on.