Donor gift endows Paws4Patients at Michigan Medicine

January 26, 2021  //  FOUND IN: News

A gift from Lainie and Kenny Lipschutz and the Lipschutz Family Fund will ensure that current and future generations of Michigan Medicine patients will be able to receive comfort and support from four-legged caregivers.

The Lipschutz-Danzansky family’s donation endows funds for the Michigan Medicine Paws4Patients hospital dog program, which has been named the Lipschutz-Danzansky Family Paws4Patients Program to honor the family’s generosity.

With the support of several donor families, Michigan Medicine established Paws4Patients in 2016 to connect patients and families with specially-trained dogs and staff members. By visiting with patients and families, the dogs are able to share comfort, ease anxieties, and provide motivation and assistance during certain treatments, procedures and rehabilitation therapies.

“When you see the looks on the faces of patients when the Paws4Patients dogs enter their rooms and the sense of relief that consumes them, it brings tears to your eyes,” said Lainie and Kenny Lipschutz, U-M alumni and long-time U-M supporters who are also members of the Michigan Medicine C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital Advisory Council. “The way the dogs brighten the day and bring smiles to the faces of patients and families is priceless.”

The Lipschutz-Danzansky Family Paws4Patients Program currently has four golden retrievers — Denver, Anna, Bindi and Fawn — who work “full-time” providing animal-assisted therapy across Michigan Medicine and a number of areas at Mott.

All four dogs were trained by Canine Assistants, a nonprofit organization near Atlanta that teaches and provides service dogs for children and adults with physical disabilities or special needs. The dogs were specifically matched to Michigan Medicine based on the health system’s needs and the types of patients that receive care.

The endowment established by Lipschutz-Danzansky family will combine with the ongoing contributions of loyal Paws4Patients supporters to help cover expenses like grooming, veterinary care, training and costs associated with bringing future dogs into the program. The funds will also allow the completely donor-funded program to look for areas to expand and serve more patients, and pursue opportunities to adapt and improve to continue to meet patient needs.

“We are so grateful for the Lipschutz-Danzansky family’s support of our program,” said Kate Balzer, manager of the Lipschutz-Danzansky Family Paws4Patients Program and a project manager in the Office of Patient Experience. “Being in the hospital can be scary and stressful for patients and their families, and their generosity ensures that our patients, families, and staff will continue to benefit from the unique support and comfort that only our furry colleagues can provide.”

While animal-assisted therapy shares companionship and comfort with patients, research has also shown that this unique complement to medical care can provide measurable health benefits and lead to more positive outcomes. Interaction with animals can lower stress and anxiety levels, improve blood pressure, increase patient mobility and provide an alternative focus from pain.

“We couldn’t be more excited to support the heartwarming Paws4Patients program and be able to help bring smiles and comfort to these patients and their families,” said Lainie and Kenny Lipschutz.