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A Patient's Best Friend

Ricky Chilton spent forty-one days at John Muir Health due to a severe case of pneumonia that effected both lungs. "The entire staff at John Muir Health went above and beyond the call of duty and I will be forever grateful," says Ricky. "I've never felt so helpless in my life!"

When it came time for Ricky to begin his physical rehabilitation, he recalls feeling "weak and tired" and feared he might fall.  He had spent months in a hospital bed and at one point, was barely able to perform basic self care. "Couldn't I just go home?"  He missed the comfort and familiarity of his home, neighbors and colleagues, and wanted more than anything to be home again. "My wife, doctors and nurses worked tirelessly at convincing me to stay for physical therapy. I really put up a fight!" 

It wasn't until John Muir Health Physical Therapists, Tinah Loya and Mari Segimoto, told Ricky about a special employee that would help ease his fears and distress, and make his rehabilitation more manageable.  That "special employee" was Fisher, John Muir Health's first Facility Dog. Thanks to a generous gift from Canine Companions, John Muir Health could now offer an Animal Assisted Therapy Program and Fisher was its STAR.

"Using Fisher to motivate Ricky was instrumental in his recovery," says Tinah. Ricky's wife recalls, "there were days when Ricky didn't want to get out of bed, but when he heard Fisher's collar tags down the hall, he immediately perked up." 

"Fisher changed the course of recovery for me," says Ricky.  "He was the fuel that made my motor run again. I can't say enough about the entire staff at John Muir Health.  They did more than their job descriptions, they treated me like family."

Fast forward five months and Ricky is enjoying being home and is back to work.  He recently had the opportunity to visit the medical center and stopped by the Rehabilitation Center to see Tinah, Mari and Fisher. "Fisher recognized me immediately and gave me that old, familiar and wonderful nuzzle. It was an overwhelmingly  joyous feeling!"

fisher reunion

Left to Right: John Muir Health Physical Therapists Mari Segimoto and Tinah Loya, Ricky Chilton and Fisher.

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