Pet therapy has long helped patients in children’s hospitals and in nursing homes find comfort, happiness and a sense of calmness. These positive patient experiences are now a part of Butler Hospital’s efforts to enhance the environment of care for patients at all age levels.
Pet therapy involves personal interactions, like petting and playing, between patients and a trained animal, under the supervision of the animal’s owner or handler.
For patients in the hospital’s senior unit, where the program began under the direction of Dr. Frederick Guggenheim of Butler Hospital and his therapy dog, Annie, pet therapy brings the feeling of home a little closer, according to Anne Doughty, OTR/L, an occupational therapist. She explains, ” Some of our patients have left their pets in the care of others when they come to the hospital. Having a pet therapy dog on the unit gives them an opportunity to spend some time with a gentle, loving animal, which they’re used to.”
Being admitted to the hospital can also be a time of high anxiety for patients. One study published by the American Psychiatric Association Journal noted statistically significant reductions in anxiety levels for hospitalized psychiatric patients who were offered pet therapy.
The program is offered to patients on all of the hospital’s inpatient treatment units, including the child and adolescent units, as well the partial hospital program.
The owners ensure their animals meet all the standards set by Therapy Dogs International, Inc for medical pet therapy, including licensing, credentialing and general liability insurance. For more information on the Pet Therapy Program contact Barbara Ostrove, Director of Occupational Therapy, at (401) 455-6412 or via e-mail at email@example.com. To volunteer for the program, contact Linda Dias in Human Resources at (401) 455-6244 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.