Specialist Provides Care for People
the Veterinary Teaching Hospital can handle almost every imaginable
animal health problem. But whos there when the animal owner needs
Owners may be overwhelmed
by grief and worry about a beloved pets illness. Having to choose
among complicated diagnosis and treatment options may add to their stress.
need for support, the Veterinary Teaching Hospital recently added Elizabeth
Kennedy to its staff as a client counselor specialist. Kennedy, a licensed
clinical social worker with a masters in social work from Ohio
State University, says, I see my job as being the liaison between
the client and the entire hospital staff.
example, when an animal is in a restricted treatment area, Kennedy can
bring news of its status to anxious owners in the lobbyand return
with information useful to clinicians. She has calmed distraught clients,
helped make sure owners understand what the doctors have said, and been
a comforting presence during euthanasia.
important to open the lines of communication, she says. My
main job is just to listen.
insights and experience gained from two and a half years doing similar
work in a busy Columbus, Ohio, human hospital emergency room. She says
everything she learned in that position has applications in the veterinary
setting. Here as there, she charts her activities in the patients
medical record and is on-call during off hours.
In addition to
experience, Kennedy brings an ability to empathize with clients
intense love of their pets. She says she and her husband, a second-year
surgery resident at the hospital, have two children of the four-legged
About 80 percent
of Kennedys time will be in direct service to clients. She will
also teach the bereavement class for first- and second-year students
who volunteer with the Colleges CARE pet loss helpline. Many veterinary
students, residents, and hospital staff members have sought her counsel
in dealing with the emotional aspects of their work.
students will benefit from seeing her in action. If I can help
them understand the bond-centered practice, she says,
they will have clients who never leave them.
to the benefits she brings their clients.
Liz is having
an incredible impact as a grief and stress counselor for our small animal
clients, says Dr. Steve Marks, section head for small animal medicine.
I know this program will soon set the standard for veterinary
schools around the country.
Dr. Barbara Kitchell,
veterinary oncologist, agrees: I was not really convinced we needed
someone like her, but seeing her work with distraught clients has made
a believer of me. She brings a great level of professionalism, clarity,
and skill in communication that has made my life easier. Also, she is
actively teaching the students to help them better deal with the psychosocial
issues involved in veterinary practice.
is serving clients in a way that clinicians often cant: The
tears start and the doctor says I have to go. Thats
when I come in, she says.