Kaia, First Facility Dog at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital has Died

It is with great sadness and a tremendous sense of pride that Penn State Health Children’s Hospital shared the news that Kaia, a golden retriever who served as the first facility dog at the hospital, died over the weekend.

When she started on the job in October 2016, Kaia became the first full-time facility dog at a children’s hospital in Pennsylvania. She quickly became a well-known presence throughout Penn State Health Children’s Hospital, helping mostly with radiology and radiation oncology patients alongside her primary handler, Ashley Kane, manager of the hospital’s Child Life Program; and Paige Deljanovan, certified child life specialist in pediatric radiology.

Kaia was a pioneer, with several facility dogs following in her paw-steps. They include Pilot, Captain, Thor, Baron and Skye, who all remain on the job today in different specialized areas, with an aim of enhancing patient care. They spend 40 hours a week at work with their primary handlers, with time allowed for downtime, naps and walks. They even have their own Instagram channel dedicated to educating the public on the purpose of the facility dog program and the work they do with the Child Life team at the Children’s Hospital.

Facility dogs undergo extensive training to work in a health care environment and provide emotional support, as well as learn specific tasks to help patients cope with major and minor hospital procedures.