Posted May 22, 2024

TUDPS K-9 unit unleashes smiles to Temple Hospital staff

Temple University’s K-9 unit visits hospital doctors, nurses and tech staff to provide comfort.  

Photography By: 
Matt Petrillo
Temple Police Officer Camponelli and K-9 Falko delivered some doggone friendly smiles to the staff and patients of Temple University Hospital.

Temple University Police Officer Jesse Camponelli and his partner, K-9 Falko, delivered some doggone friendly smiles to the staff and patients of Temple University Hospital (TUH) on a recent Thursday. The dynamic duo often stops by the hospital, which can be extremely comforting to those who need it most. 

“We come by to bring positivity to their days,” Camponelli said. “They have difficult, stressful jobs and it’s great to visit them to let them know, ‘Hey, we’ll support you in any way we can.’”

The K-9 unit will visit hospital staff every few weeks and often walk right into the triage area.

“We’ve been doing it for years,” Camponelli said. “This also builds a collaboration and partnership between the hospital and the Department of Public Safety.”

“Our nurses and doctors love seeing the K-9 unit. For them to be able to step away for even 30 or 45 seconds to pet K-9 Falko or K-9 Chandler and hug them, they’re thrilled,” said Kevin Desrochers, AVP of Emergency Department Nursing Operations at TUH. 

Desrochers added that working inside of the hospital can be extremely stressful, given the trauma and other challenges that staff deal with on a daily basis. However, seeing the K-9s “just calms them and makes them happy and brings them a little bit of normalcy,” Desrochers said. “To have the dogs come in, it brings everyone back to reality.”

The K-9 unit doesn’t just comfort staff, but their reach extends to patients, as well. 

“My mother-in-law was a patient here at TUH and moving to hospice care. She hadn’t smiled for weeks. But when Falko came to visit her, her eyes lit up and for the first time in weeks, I saw her smile. The visit was incredibly beneficial,” Desrochers said. “I can’t thank Falko and Officer Camponelli enough, and my wife is also incredibly thankful.”

Pet therapy has shown to support positive physical and mental health for healthcare professionals, said Jennifer Griffin, chief and vice president of Temple University’s Department of Public Safety (TUDPS). 

“The impact that Falko delivers to the nurses, doctors and tech staff helps to break up their stressful day,” Griffin said. 

“It also builds camaraderie,” said Denise Wilhelm, executive deputy operations at TUDPS. 

“TUDPS has a great relationship with the hospital, and having the K-9s come through helps build that relationship even more,” said Wilhelm. “We work in separate worlds—police and nurses and doctors—but our K-9 unit has the ability to break down barriers and de-stress everyone.”