the torch Spring 2015, Issue 1 - Page 4

LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT Canine Companions for Independence® trains select dogs for placement with individuals with physical and/or cognitive challenges. It is headquartered in Santa Rosa, California. Baylor Scott & White Health is collaborating with them to build and operate a training facility in Irving, Texas. Founded in 1975, CCI “enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs.” It is the largest nonprofit provider of service dogs in the United States. Through our collaboration with CCI, we will provide personalized health to meet the unique medical, spiritual and emotional needs of those clients selected through CCI’s application process. This extends our continuum of care well beyond a hospital or doctor’s office I visited with a trainer at the CCI headquarters. She told me about working with a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq. We’ll call him Jack. In addition to his many physical issues – including hearing loss, a traumatic brain injury 4 and post-traumatic stress – Jack returned from Iraq burdened with survivor’s guilt. These challenges made it difficult for him to get along with people and hold down jobs. Alcohol became a sanctuary. He couldn’t sleep. Jack will tell you his relationship with dogs – in particular his CCI dog – rescued him. He soon realized that his connection with his dog was one of the few positive relationships left in his life. In order to pull out of his downward spiral, Jack knew something must change. He had to start treating people the way he treated his dog – with trust, patience and understanding. Jack slowly emerged from the shadow that had come to define his life. Eager to help other veterans, he volunteered to bring vets and dogs together. He eventually became a trainer. During training, he asked the veterans in the program to look for parallels between their interactions with their dogs and their relationships with family, friends and co-workers. When problems have occurred – with dogs or with people – what roles have frustration and anger played? If patience had been employed, how might things have gone differently? The lessons became obvious. Late this summer, we will open the beautiful new Canine Companions for Independence at Baylor Scott & White Health – Kinkeade Campus making us one of the first health and wellness centers to collaborate with CCI. As I reflect on Jack’s story, I can confidently and proudly state that we are making a difference, one deserving individual at a time. Rowland K. Robinson President Baylor Health Care System Foundation Robinson@BaylorHealth.edu