The past few months I’ve spent a lot of time visiting hospitals. A hospital isn’t anyone’s favorite place to be, certainly not if you’re a patient. But I was impressed with all that some hospitals are doing to make the experience less stressful. For example, Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles has a music program, and volunteers go around to the rooms and the waiting rooms singing or playing music. At one point we were serenaded with a beautiful harp, and another time were treated to a lovely folk song. Many hospitals also have programs where dogs come to visit. A study at UCLA reported that when patients were visited by these canines, they had a 24% drop in their anxiety scores, and a 17% dip in the stress hormone epinephrine. The same results did not hold when patients were visited by friendly strangers instead. The lead researcher noted that there’s no social effort for patients when the dogs come to visit, so the patient can be more relaxed. The dogs I met were wonderful, and although they take their job seriously, they each seemed to enjoy the experience.
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