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PHILADELPHIA, PA, July 10, 2012--Magee Rehabilitation Hospital is dedicated to improving the quality of life for persons with disabilities by providing high quality physical and cognitive rehabilitation services--and sometimes, that means thinking beyond traditional therapies. Through the support of the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation, Magee has established its first Facility Dog program, adding a new official member to the Magee team: Ford, the Golden Retriever. Through Magee's Facility Dog program, Ford works alongside trained health and human service professionals to support patients in their therapy and facilitate the rehabilitation process. This program will be recognized as part of the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation's third annual "Angelversary" Day of Service on July 17, 2012 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital. 

Ford, Magee's first facility dog"Animal-assisted therapy is yet another way we can provide our patients with the highest quality care to help them achieve their goals and improve their outcomes, while also reducing anxiety and stress," said Jack Carroll, President and CEO of Magee Rehabilitation Hospital. "We are incredibly grateful and sincerely honored that the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation chose to remember Casey through the support of this innovative program."

Facility Dogs work side by side with health and human service professionals to engage patients in sessions designed to improve functional outcomes, stimulate healing and recovery, and provide comfort and unconditional love. While many health care facilities may have animals visit with patients, these animals are generally handled by volunteers and are not used to help patients meet specific, planned treatment goals. Through Magee's Facility Dog program, the treatment providers are health and human service professionals, not volunteers. Patients' sessions with Ford, who is highly trained and educated, are goal-directed, and functional outcomes are measured, recorded and documented. The average Facility Dog knows around 40 commands, all of which can be utilized during therapy. Ford has also completed training as a Service Dog, which means he knows more than 90 commands, including turning lights off and on, pulling manual wheelchairs, retrieving drinks from the fridge and tugging socks off feet to name a few. Working with Ford educates patients on the potential benefits of applying for a Service Dog after they are discharged.

Despite the many benefits of animal-assisted therapy, the training, management and continued support of a Facility Dog can be cost-prohibitive for many institutions. The Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation understood the potential of animal-assisted therapy for patients and their recovery, and approached Magee Rehabilitation with a pledge of support. The Foundation honors Casey Feldman, who passed away on July 17, 2009 at the age of 21 after being struck by a distracted driver. To remember their daughter, Casey's parents started the Foundation to provide financial support to individuals, groups and institutions whose interests and goals align with those of Casey.

"Casey loved animals, especially dogs--she even volunteered at a no-kill animal shelter," said Joel Feldman, Casey's father and one of the founders of the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation. "At the Foundation, we have spent so much time focusing on preventing distracted driving, which is important--but I could always hear Casey saying, 'Dad, what about the animals?' On the third anniversary of her death, it is so fitting that we remember her through this gift to Magee, a gift that will help those facing life-altering changes adapt to their challenges. We are so thankful to Magee for allowing us to remember Casey in such a special way."

The program--and Ford--will be officially introduced on July 17 during the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation's third annual "Angelversary" Day of Service from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital. In addition to learning more about the benefits and potential of this program, Casey's family and friends will also be invited to watch Ford in action as he leads patients in therapy sessions. For more information about the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation, please visit www.CaseyFeldmanFoundation.org. For more information about Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, please visit www.MageeRehab.org.

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