Middlesboro ARH, LMU vet school partner to bring comfort to pediatric patients

Published 10:07 am Thursday, May 17, 2018

Middlesboro ARH and LMU College of Veterinary Medicine (LMU-CVM) are partnering to provide pediatric hospital patients comfort through The Josh and Friends Project.

The Knoxville-based organization named The Josh and Friends Project was developed to help alleviate the stress and provide comfort to children going into the hospital. The Project includes the book I’ll Be O.K. and the cuddly “Josh” plush puppy—both designed to comfort kids during what might otherwise be a traumatic experience. Cuddling with Josh can easily transform anxious hospital stays into friendship-filled experiences while on the path to wellness.

“The LMU-CVM and ARH mission statements focus on serving the health and wellness needs of people,” said Dr. Randy Evans, LMU-CVM Associate Dean of Career Services and Professional Development and ARH Board of Trustee. “The Josh and Friends Project personifies both missions by improving the well-being of hospitalized children.”

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The LMU-CVM students raised money to purchase books and Josh plush puppies for local pediatric patients.

“The Josh Project is a living example of how LMU-CVM students integrate with and give back to the community, supporting children through the human-animal bond, and partnering with key leaders in area health such as ARH,” stated LMU-CVM Vice President and Dean Jason Johnson.

“The LMU veterinary students have done a tremendous job in fostering the human-animal bond through the Josh and Friends Project,” added Dr. John Dascanio, LMU-CVM Executive Associate Dean. “The power of an animal connection and the dedication to society by students is priceless.”

Recently LMU-CVM students and staff arrived at Middlesboro ARH Hospital carrying boxes of books and Josh plush puppies which will be distributed to local pediatric patients who need comfort.

“We are pleased to partner with LMU staff and students to improve the patient experience in our hospital,” shared Michael Slusher, Middlesboro ARH Community CEO. “Through the Josh and Friends Project, your donations will make a real difference for the children who are admitted to our community hospital or are having surgery. We sincerely appreciate your generous donations.”

Ashley Kotran, class of 2019, SAVMA President & Initiator of the Josh Project at LMU shared:, “When my younger sister was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at just six months old, my parents were told she would spend the next year undergoing treatment in the hospital for weeks at a time. The Josh Kit is definitely something I wish that hospital had during that time because it would have made my sister’s battle with cancer a little less scary. I am happy to now be a part of establishing the Josh Project in the Appalachia area!”

Josh and Friends is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable entity created to put emotional support plush puppies in the hands and hearts of children who need them. For more information, go to: www.joshandfriends.com.