BALTIMORE — Not all heroes wear capes. Sometimes they wear scrubs. And have tails.
Meet Loki, a two-year-old Rottweiler who is a well-known sight around the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, where Loki's mom is a second-year medical student. Caroline Benzel brings Loki to work with her to comfort patients, particularly those who are on longer stays in the hospital, as a therapy dog.
Since the spread of coronavirus, however, therapy dogs have had to stop visiting hospitals, for safety reasons. Now, Benzel and Loki host facetime therapy sessions with patients.
But Benzel wanted to do more. She noticed that many of her coworkers' hands were raw, from constant handwashing to protect from COVID-19, and their faces were chapped from protective masks digging into their skin.
Benzel came up with the idea of distributing care packages that she calls "Hero Healing Kits," filled with items like moisturizing hand lotion, chapstick, talcum powder, Vaseline, protein bars, gum and more. And of course, she had to put Loki's face on the kits, because she knew the familiar image of Loki would be an additional calming presence for her friends at the hospital.
"Loki truly is an amazing dog and it’s been such a blessing to be able to spread her personality and share it with the hospital system as a whole," Benzel said in a Good Morning America interview.
So far, Benzel has raised more than $15,000 for her fundraising campaign, and she was able to start distributing the first round of kits Wednesday. Benzel also said that organizers from Baltimore, Philadelphia and Rochester, Minnesota have reached out to her to see how they can start creating their own kits.
See how to contribute to a Hero Healing Kit here.