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Montefiore in the News

March 20, 2024

CHAM Facility Dog, funded by NHL Player Kevin Shattenkirk, Starts on the Job During Child Life Month

BRONX, N.Y. - March 20, 2024 - 23-month-old Black Labrador Polly has joined the Child Life Team at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM), to support young patients during hospitalizations and medical appointments. Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLS) assist children through medical play, helping them understand their illness, cope with procedures, and achieve their health goals. Polly is kicking off her new job at CHAM during Child Life Month, which is dedicated to recognizing and celebrating the vital role of CCLS in supporting young patients.\ 

“Child Life is a specialty that has evolved over the past 100 years and uses a variety of tools to educate and support children through some of the most trying times of their young lives,” said Meghan D. Kelly, MSEd, CCLS., director of the Phoebe H. Stein Child Life Program at CHAM. “Polly is the newest tool our Child Life Specialists will employ to help young patients who are anxious, who are facing extended hospital stays and who need assistance getting through tough procedures. We are delighted to welcome Polly as the newest member of the CHAM Child Life team.” 

Polly spent the last six months in professional training with expert instructors at Canine Companions, who have provided facility dogs, animals highly trained to assist healthcare professionals with specific tasks, free of charge, since 1975. 

Polly comes to CHAM thanks to funds raised by former New York Ranger and current Boston Bruins defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, through his partnership with the Jam Kancer In The Kan Foundation

“I've seen first-hand just how important the Child Life Specialists are to a patient's treatment during my visits to CHAM,” said Shattenkirk, who previously funded staffing which enabled a playroom at CHAM to be open and available for extended times during the day. “My wife Deanna and I jumped at the opportunity to add a four-legged member to the team. We believe Polly will have such a positive impact on every child she interacts with.” 

Polly will be available to “treat” patients in need of physical and emotional support, such as children who are recovering from surgery and need encouragement getting out of bed and walking. She’ll also assist children who need motivation to have open conversations about difficult and stressful topics, such as eating disorders. Polly will see around seven patients per day and will live with her own dedicated Certified Child Life Specialist, Katy Dessick. 

“Polly is a unique member of our Child Life team,” said Katy. “Few children’s hospitals have facility dogs in-house to assist with patient needs. We are very grateful to Kevin Shattenkirk for making this possible, and to Canine Companions, who dedicate countless hours to training dogs like Polly to be crucial aids for people in need of extra support.” 

Polly Dog



About Montefiore Health System

Montefiore Health System is one of New York’s premier academic health systems and is a recognized leader in providing exceptional quality and personalized, accountable care to approximately three million people in communities across the Bronx, Westchester, and the Hudson Valley. It is comprised of 10 hospitals, including the Children's Hospital at Montefiore, Burke Rehabilitation Hospitaland more than 200 outpatient ambulatory care sites. The advanced clinical and translational research at its medical school, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, directly informs patient care and improves outcomes. From the Montefiore-Einstein Centers of Excellence in cancer, cardiology and vascular care, pediatrics, and transplantation, to its preeminent school-based health program, Montefiore is a fully integrated healthcare delivery system providing coordinated, comprehensive care to patients and their families. For more information, please visit Follow us on Twitter and Instagram and LinkedIn, or view us on Facebook and YouTube.