Pet Therapy dog visits patients at Providence Medical Center

Did you know that animals can promote healing, reduce stress and lower blood pressure? Now patients at Providence Medical Center will reap those benefits as owner/pet therapy teams visit every other week.

“Lily”, a petite and sweet golden retriever and her owner, Sue Manning, recently paid patients a visit at Providence. Lily and her owner are assisted by hospital volunteers to find patients who want a visit by the special pet. As she moves through the hallways Lilly’s official badge and Pet Partner registered Therapy Team vest identify her as an important member of the healthcare team. And according to her owner Manning, she even has her own business card to share with patients.

"These visits can helps normalize blood pressure and, often helps people calm down before surgery or a medical procedure or during recovery of an extended illness.,” said Jordan Frost, volunteer services manager.

“We are very grateful for these friendly pets and their owners who come visit our patients and help them during the recovery process.”

Manning added, “When Lily visits the patients she often helps people reminisce about their own pets. It’s not uncommon for patients to hug, pet and sometimes even become a bit emotional.”

Providence Medical Center’s Volunteer Services works in collaboration with Pet Partners®, a nationally registered Therapy Animal Program. Pet Partners® insures that “both ends of the leash,” people as well as animals, are well-prepared to participate in animal-assisted activity and programs. They also insure that each human-animal team meets requirements to enter the program that includes record of current vaccination and medical screenings and verification that the animal has passed a behavioral evaluation by completing the Pet Partners® training.

For further information on Pet Partners membership, call 425-679-5500.

Once you qualify for and are accepted into the Providence Medical Center’s Volunteer Services Animal Visitation Program, you will be asked to complete an application, complete a criminal background check, have a two-step TB test administered and schedule to attend a general volunteer orientation. The first TB test is administered and read by a qualified Providence Medical Center professional within 48-72 hours to be valid and must be completed and passed prior to anyone being accepted into the program. A second TB test will be administered by Employee Health 7-21 days after the first, and read 48-72 hours later. Pets used through the Pet Partners registered Therapy Animal Program in hospitals and long-term healthcare centers are evaluated to determine if the pet can be therapeutic — if it has calm demeanor, is well-behaved and follows basic obedience commands, according to Manning. After initial training and registration, the pets are re-registered every two years.

Although the program hasn't existed at Providence for long, its success is already apparent, Frost said. Patients have reported a decrease in their anxiety and other positive feedback.

To learn more about the hospital's pet therapy program or other volunteer services opportunities at Providence Medical Center, call 913-596-4951 or visit providencekc.com.

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