Barker Posey, a therapy dog at California Pacific Medical Center Van Ness Campus in San Francisco. (Photo courtesy of CPMC)

While some believe that the state of America’s health care system has gone to the dogs, one Bay Area hospital appears to have taken things to a new level.

Officials at San Francisco’s new California Pacific Medical Center Van Ness Campus recently honored one of its employees, naming her “Chief Medical Paw-fficer.”

The unusual designation for the hospital’s therapy dog, Barker Posey, was bestowed during Take Your Dog to Work Day. Hospital officials presented Barker with her official employee badge, with her new title clearly visible.

Posey, a 3-year-old mixed Labrador and Golden Retriever, makes daily rounds throughout the hospital’s Emergency Department, Pediatric floor and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, showing love and affection to the hospital’s sickest patients.

“When somebody comes to the hospital, especially with a child, they’re very anxious, the child is very anxious,” said Dr. Vincent Tamariz.

“They can have a cut, a broken bone or a fever. So, when we walk in the room we ask if it’s OK to have a dog and when it is, she comes in and she just diffuses the entire situation and it makes everyone feel more comfortable.

“She’ll allow us to get blood draws on patients who are anxious. She’ll allow us to do laceration repairs, to examine a child while they’re being distracted. So, she really has a lot of benefits for our patients,” he said.

According to the hospital, therapy dogs like Posey have been shown to reduce anxiety and fear that many people experience during a hospital visit.

Posey, trained as a Canine Companions for Independence service dog, has been comforting patients for two years.

While Posey is the only therapy dog at the 11-story Sutter Health CPMC Van Ness Campus, which opened back in March, Tamariz said it would be nice to have more “paw-fficers” on staff in the future.

But for now, Posey doesn’t seem to mind her workload.

“She really lights up to see kids. That’s really her specialty,” he said.