This “dogtor” may not have a degree in medicine, but he has been helping to treat hardworking healthcare employees with joy and care packages.
Prior to the COVID-19 outbreaks, Loki the Rottweiler and his owner, Caroline Benzel, were familiar faces at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. Since Loki had such a friendly reputation with the hospital staffers and patients, he and Benzel would visit the hospital and cheer up the residents three days a week.
Because Benzel is just a second-year medical student, however, she was pulled out of school and off of the hospital frontlines after the novel coronavirus outbreaks.
Rather than spend her time in quarantine twiddling her thumbs beside her therapy dog, she began thinking up new ways to help her hospital community.
At first, Benzel and Loki would use FaceTime conversations to offer some virtual comfort and relief to the staffers—but Benzel eventually found the inspiration for her new passion project after she noticed the physical toll that protective medical gear had on healthcare workers.
Since the doctors and nurses have been forced to wear gloves and masks around the clock, many of them have been developing rashes and skin irritation from the constant friction.
Benzel and Loki then took to the internet and started asking their social media followers for donations to make “hero healing kits” with hydrating skin lotion, boxes of tea, baby powder, chapstick, chewing gum, and moisturizer for healthcare workers.
In just a few short weeks, the dynamic duo has used their Amazon Wishlist to raise thousands of dollars and collect hundreds of gift donations.
“So far we have raised over 1,400 total kits, but are closer to +1,600 incomplete kits,” Benzel wrote on Loki’s Facebook page. “The donations keep coming in!! Needless to say, we are blown away by the kindness and generosity of people.”
Not only has their internet campaign helped to fuel their labor of love, Benzel says that community members across the country have reached out to her about launching “hero healing kit” initiatives in their own cities.
”We will be distributing the majority of these to 4 different hospitals over the next week,” continued Benzel, “AND THAT IS JUST THE BEGINNING.
“The hope was people would see what we are trying to do and be inspired to do the same in their respective areas, and that HAS HAPPENED! … [we have] inspired others to do similar projects in New Jersey, North Carolina, [Pennsylvania], and other parts of Maryland.
“THIS was was the dream, and it is coming to fruition: not only to help frontline workers/first responders, but to inspire others to do the same in their counties and states for their respective hospitals,” added Benzel. “Thank you again for all the love and support shown through all of this. We wanted to show our people keeping us safe some love, and because of you, we have been able to do that.”
Benzel says that she just started distributing her first batch of care packages this week to four different hospitals, and she is excited to deliver many more in the weeks to come.
This is just one of many positive stories and updates that are coming out of the COVID-19 news coverage this week. For more uplifting coverage on the outbreaks, click here.
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