Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital Receives Grant From PetSmart Charities® to Extend “Paws & Play” Program 

*** PHOTOS PROVIDED (see captions below)   

Newswise — (New York, NY – December 11, 2019)  Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital announced today that PetSmart Charities has offered a gift of $75,000 to extend the tenure of Professor Bunsen Honeydew the hospital’s first of three facility dogs, through October 2020.  The hospital’s “Paws & Play” program was initially launched in June 2017 with a PetSmart Charities grant of $350,000.

The first of its kind in New York State, Mount Sinai’s Paws & Play pairs animal-assisted therapy with the skills of a certified child life specialist and a licensed creative arts therapist to provide therapeutic interventions for patients, families, and staff. Animal-assisted therapy and facility dogs have been found to increase positive behaviors, reduce experiences of pain, lower blood pressure, and decrease experiences of depression and fatigue.

“Animal-assisted therapy is a critical component of our pediatric programming, which includes pain management, procedural support, socialization, and, on a really good day, some fun and laughter,” says Morgan Stojanowski, Assistant Director, Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department, Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital.

The PetSmart Charities grant will fund the salary of Professor’s handler, certified child life specialist Ali Spike, along with food and veterinary care for Professor and ongoing research.

“We are proud to offer our continued support of Professor and the Paws & Play program,” says Kelly Balthazor, regional relationship manager at PetSmart Charities. “For three years this program has transformed the way patients receive care, and we are thrilled to share the healing power of pets with hospital staff, patients, and their families.”

“We know that facility dogs enhance patients’ social, emotional, and even cognitive functioning. In our research currently underway, we are diving a little deeper to evaluate Professor’s role in mitigating stress for pediatric patients receiving intravenous placements in the outpatient clinic,” says Ms. Stojanowski. The study, she says, will include more than 200 children and will be concluded in about a year.   

Professor clocks in at 9 am and works until 5 pm every day, primarily in the hospital’s outpatient Hematology/Oncology clinic. Ms. Spike and Professor also spend time in the pediatric emergency room and intensive care units, which are also housed within Kravis Children’s Hospital. In addition to facilitating more than 250 patient and family sessions a month, Professor  also holds “Professor’s Office Hours” on a weekly basis to provide comfort to physicians and nursing staff. He is also a frequent star guest of Mount Sinai's KidZone TV, a state-of-the-art, interactive production and internal broadcast studio within Kravis Children’s Hospital. KidZone TV produces live programming three times a day, seven days a week, for pediatric patients and families, and is broadcast throughout the Kravis Children’s Hospital on a dedicated channel. 




About the Mount Sinai Health System The Mount Sinai Health System is New York City's largest integrated delivery system, encompassing eight hospitals, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai's vision is to produce the safest care, the highest quality, the highest satisfaction, the best access and the best value of any health system in the nation. The Health System includes approximately 7,480 primary and specialty care physicians; 11 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 410 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. The Icahn School of Medicine is one of three medical schools that have earned distinction by multiple indicators: ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report's "Best Medical Schools", aligned with a U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" Hospital, No. 12 in the nation for National Institutes of Health funding, and among the top 10 most innovative research institutions as ranked by the journal Nature in its Nature Innovation Index. This reflects a special level of excellence in education, clinical practice, and research. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked No. 14 on U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" of top U.S. hospitals; it is one of the nation's top 20 hospitals in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Gynecology, Nephrology, Neurology/Neurosurgery, and Orthopedics in the 2019-2020 "Best Hospitals" issue. Mount Sinai's Kravis Children's Hospital also is ranked nationally in five out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report. The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked 12th nationally for Ophthalmology, Mount Sinai St. Lukes and Mount Sinai West are ranked 23rd nationally for Nephrology and 25th for Diabetes/Endocrinology, and Mount Sinai South Nassau is ranked 35th nationally for Urology. Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai St. Luke's, Mount Sinai West, and Mount Sinai South Nassau are ranked regionally.

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Piper, with the help of Certified Child Life Specialist Ali Spikestein, gives Professor “pretend medicine” to help cope with her own daily medicine routine, which can be stressful for young   patients.


Daniela enjoys a snuggle break with Professor Bunsen Honeydew, one of three facility dogs who comfort patients, families, and staff at Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital. Today the hospital announced that PetSmart Charities had offered a gift to extend the tenure of Professor through October 2020. 


DJ takes a moment with Professor and his handler, Ali Spike, at Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital. Professor is part of Mount Sinai’s Paws & Play program, which pairs animal-assisted therapy with the skills of a certified child life specialist and a licensed creative arts therapist to provide therapeutic interventions for patients, families, and staff at Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital.