Kapiolani Medical Center Bids Aloha to Chief Canine Officer Winnie

Hospital facility dog and her handler, Dr. Wendi Major, moving to the mainland 09/11/2019

Labrador retriever dog wearing service vest

Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children’s hospital facility dog Winnie is leaving her post as the medical center’s Chief Canine Officer. She and her handler, Kapiolani Pediatric Psychologist Dr. Wendi Major, are moving to the mainland. Winnie’s last day of work will be Friday, September 13, 2019.

“It’s a bittersweet time for us at Kapiolani Medical Center as we say goodbye to Winnie and Dr. Major,” said Kapiolani CEO Martha Smith. “Winnie has had such a positive impact not only on our pediatric patients and their families by helping to provide comfort and promote healing, but on our staff and the community as well. While they leave big paws to fill, our program will continue with another dog from Assistance Dogs of Hawaii and a new handler once training is complete.”

Assistance Dogs of Hawaii opened a second campus, Assistance Dogs Northwest, in 2016. Winnie will continue her work in providing care to children and families under Assistance Dogs Northwest at Metropolitan Pediatrics in Portland, Oregon. Winnie will work alongside Dr. Major as her co-therapist and Canine Comfort Champ when seeing children and families for behavioral health services.

“We are so incredibly grateful for the love and support of the staff, patients and families at Kapiolani who have enriched our lives here beyond measure,” said Dr. Major. “We are excited to spread the aloha spirit in the Pacific Northwest.”

The animal-assisted therapy program at Kapiolani provides comfort to pediatric patients, many times at the bedside, through the use of a dog that is specially-trained for full-time work in a hospital setting. Animals can lower stress, distract a child from pain, ease a child’s fear of medical procedures, leave a child happier and more relaxed, and even help improve communication within patients’ families and between parents and care providers. Funding for the animal-assisted therapy program, which comes from donations, also supports participation in activities within the medical center and outside in the community.

Kapiolani will receive a new dog trained by Assistance Dogs of Hawaii, a nonprofit organization on Maui that trains service dogs to support people with disabilities and to provide comfort and courage to children in hospitals and courthouses.

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Liz Chun Uyehara