NEWARK, Ohio, November 10, 2015 - As a nurse and the director of the surgical technology program at Central Ohio Technical College (COTC), Kim Gates has seen trauma up close and personal. She has watched patients go through the recovery process and seen the need for emotional help to heal. That is one of the many reasons she has extended her ability to help patients beyond the surgical unit. Gates and her dog, Otis, were recently certified as a Therapy Dog team.
"For me, this is a time to do some good and give back to my community and spend time with my dog," said Gates. "I am a nurse, and I think that if I were a patient anywhere having a dog visit would be delightful."
Gates and Otis are certified through Therapy Dogs International. The volunteer organization is dedicated to regulating, testing and registration of therapy dogs and their volunteer handlers for the purpose of visiting nursing homes, hospitals, hospice or wherever else therapy dogs are needed.
"Otis and I and our group of other therapy dogs recently visited Muskingum University when they had a tragic death of a freshman student due to a motor vehicle accident," said Gates. "We were very well received, and the students found great comfort in having the dogs visit. We also visited Morgan High School after the loss of two students last month in another motor vehicle accident. About eight of us went down with our dogs and gathered with the students in the auditorium. One student said she was confused when she first saw the dogs there because she did not understand their value. However, after interacting with the dogs she felt the comfort they brought to the situation."
As head of the surgical technology program at COTC, Gates works with students pursuing an Associate of Applied Science degree and a one-year certificate in Surgical Technology. Surgical technologists are important members of the surgical team who work closely with surgeons, anesthesiologists, registered nurses and other surgical personnel. Before, during and after surgery, they deliver critical patient care and help ensure a safe surgical environment. Gates hopes she and Otis can show her students that while the surgical procedure and physical treatment of a person is important for their wellness, their emotional wellness needs to be addressed as well.
"Otis and I have signed up to make hospital visits and will be starting that this month," said Gates.
Central Ohio Technical College is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs, as well as encouraging the professional development of students, staff, faculty and administrators to assist them in achieving their maximum potential. COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.