"Ember:" First NSD certified Facility Dog dedicated to a Canadian hospital

Wed, 08/03/2022 - 09:00

Ember - CMH's Facility Dog

Ember to provide support and emotional comfort to Cambridge Memorial Hospital personnel

Cambridge, Ontario –  CMH is pleased to introduce National Service Dog (NSD) Ember, as its dedicated facility dog. Ember and her handler team is specially trained to support the mental health and wellbeing of staff, physicians, midwives and volunteers.

Facility dogs provide goal directed interventions that can help staff with improvement in physical, social, emotional or cognitive abilities. At CMH, Ember’s role will be to offer stress release, provide mental health support and provide emotional comfort in a high stress environment. Facility dogs are typically deployed in high stress environments like Fire and Police Departments.

“Kim MacDougall, a CMH staff member, approached the executive team in 2019 with a proposal to have a facility dog,” said Patrick Gaskin, president and CEO Cambridge Memorial Hospital. “We thought it was a great idea and pursued the application. As health care providers, we face many challenges and daily stress that can impact our mental health. Ember is another way to support our staff’s mental health. Not only does she provide comfort, she also promotes positive conversations around mental health,” added Gaskin.

CMH is the first in Canada to have a dedicated, National Service Dog certified facility dog placed in a hospital. "Ember is paving the way for future placements in the healthcare sector. We look forward to hearing about the amazing work NSD Ember will do at CMH,” said Emma Bluhm, Communications Coordinator, National Service Dogs.  

Given the program is new for a hospital, discussions have started with the University of Guelph to formally evaluate the impact of the program, both on staff and on the facility dog. “We are in the early stages of exploring research opportunities with the hospital team and are excited about the potential to study the impact of program on both the staff and Ember.” says Dr. Jason Coe, Professor, VCA Canada Chair in Relationship-Centred Veterinary Medicine, Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph.  

The cost associated with Ember is graciously funded by the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation. Over the next ten years, Ember’s food and veterinary bills will be paid for by the donation. “From the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation for their generous gift to our hospital that’s made Ember’s presence possible,” said Lisa Short, Executive Director, CMH Foundation. “This donation means investing in our future and helping CMH adapt to the evolving needs of our healthcare workers. It means offering even more support to our staff so that they can provide our community with the absolute best care.”

After a two-month orientation period that included more assessments from the NSD, Ember is now deployed and is working at the hospital.

About Cambridge Memorial Hospital
Cambridge Memorial Hospital is an acute care hospital offering a full complement of integrated services including surgery, maternity, laboratory, diagnostics and emergency. It employs over 1,600 dedicated and skilled health care professionals, technicians and staff, 250 physicians and almost 500 volunteers providing exceptional care to the residents of Cambridge, the township of North Dumfries and the Region of Waterloo. For more information, visit www.cmh.org.

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Media Contact:                            
Stephan Beckhoff
Manager, Public Affairs & Communications
Cambridge Memorial Hospital
P - 519-621-2333, ext. 2427
M - 519-654-8334
E - sbeckhoff@cmh.org