LA CROSSE, WI (Spectrum News 1)-- More than 60,000 people work for Mayo Clinics across the country, but the La Crosse facility has one position that none of the other hospitals or clinics have.
A facility dog named Luna started back in November. She trained for two years for the job.
“I have learned that I really cannot take for granted the power that she brings and what she brings to people's healing,” said Lisa Morgan, an Occupational Therapy Supervisor with the Mayo Clinic and Luna's handler.
Luna works with cardiac patients to get them active and recovering, physical therapy patients, pediatric patients to help develop motor skills, and cancer patients to help them emotionally.
“For some people especially if a great deal of pain is a problem they definitely have a positive distraction with luna being there where their focus is on her,” Morgan said.
Carl Hohman gets that. He has Multiple Sclerosis and twice a week he's in the Mayo Clinic working with physical therapists to regain some abilities M.S. has taken.
“It's debilitating, when you go from doing everything to not being able to do anything. It's very humbling,” Hohman said.
Often Hohman works with Luna on his physical therapy appointments.
“We've been making some pretty good strides on that fine line of not overdoing it and gaining strength again,” Hohman said.
Of course a team of physical therapists supports and works with Hohman, but he says there's something about working with a dog that makes things easier.
“It just makes it feel more like you're not doing work as much as you are making yourself better,” Hohman said.
Luna helps patients, but workers at the hospital find him therapeutic too. Morgan knows which departments to bring the dog by to say hi and when. Overall Morgan said she's happy with to be a part of the Mayo Clinic's first-of-its-kind job position.
“It's an honor because I guess I did not really anticipate the response of not only families and patients but staff as well,” Morgan said.