Banner Thunderbird welcomes four-legged staffer, Gumby


Philanthropic gifts make this wish a reality

Gumby Banner Thunderbird's facility dog

Banner Thunderbird Medical Center recently announced a new member of the medical team – Gumby, a Facility Dog. Unlike Therapy Dogs, Facility Dogs play a specific role in a patient's coping and treatment plan, providing comfort, motivation, and distraction during medical procedures.

Grants to the Banner Health Foundation from two charitable foundations are making it possible for Gumby to work full-time alongside Lauren Katz, a Child Life specialist at Banner Thunderbird. Providing support to patients of all ages, including spending a day or two in the outpatient hematology/oncology clinic, Gumby is a two-year-old white poodle specially trained by Paws With A Cause, a renowned organization based in Michigan with a local field representative who has trained Gumby since he was a puppy.

“We are extremely proud of Gumby for becoming the first Facility Dog for Banner Children's at Thunderbird! We know that he will quickly become an important part of the Banner team and provide comfort to so many,” says Michele Suchovsky, CEO at Paws With A Cause. “Being in a hospital can be scary and overwhelming for children and their families. PAWS Facility Dogs, like Gumby, help provide a bridge in communication and offer support to the family and the caregiving team as they navigate these difficult situations.”

"We are excited to be the first Banner hospital to offer this unique form of care to our patients," says Wendy Pauker, associate director of Child Life at Banner Thunderbird. "Dogs have a magical healing power that can truly make a difference in a patient's journey to recovery. We are confident that Gumby will have a positive impact on the lives of those we serve."