“Dogtor” Loki is making sure that nurses at the University of Maryland Medical Center are being looked after during the coronavirus pandemic.
The therapy dog — owned by second-year medical student Caroline Benzel, who attends the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore — helps to deliver “hero healing kits” to intensive care unit nurses at University of Maryland Medical Center.
Benzel told WJLA that she adopted Loki around the time she got accepted into medical school, adding that she wanted a therapy dog after seeing the positive effects it had on her sick grandfather.
“My grandfather was sick and I lived with him in his hospital room for a month,” Caroline explained. “When he would see this dog, he would light up.”
Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Benzel and Loki would spend three days a week visiting patients and comforting them at the hospital.
“I got pulled from school and the front lines,” Benzel said. “I was used to being at the hospital multiple days a week with Loki.”
Benzel and Loki began FaceTiming with patients and health care workers to provide support when Benzel soon noticed the strain the nurses were under having to be dressed in personal protective equipment (PPE) around the clock.
“Everyone was wearing PPE 24/7 and because of that, they were getting rashes and irritation from wearing masks,” Benzel said, adding that she was inspired to make care packages to alleviate what they were going through and called them “hero healing kits.”
The kits are made up of donations made through an Amazon Wishlist and include items such as lip balm, Vaseline, chamomile tea, Gold Bond powder, and chewing gum.
“Dogtor” Loki is far from the only therapy dog comforting medical workers on the frontlines. Wynn, a one-year-old Labrador retriever, is working as a therapy dog for emergency room staff at Rose Medical Center in Denver, Colorado.