Springfield (KMTR) - Being hospitalized can be a scary, anxious, even a lonely time for patients. But some local dogs and their owners are offering comfort with their roaming bedside manner.
Briar, a 6-year-old Welsh springer spaniel and her owner, Ginger Nickel, are a certified pet therapy team. They volunteer one day a week at Sacred Heart Medical Center Riverbend in Springfield. They make the rounds, visiting staff and patients who need a little pick-me-up.
“She doesn't ask anything of them,” Ginger Nickel says. “She doesn't say, ‘Well, what can I do for you?’ She's not asking anybody to make a decision. She's not going to give anyone an injection or draw blood; she's just sort of there. And the staff enjoy her too; it's not just the patients and the families. Everybody who comes in contact with a therapy dog leaves just feeling better.”
Ginger and Briar are just two of more than 600 volunteers who donate their time at the hospital. Staff members like volunteer program coordinator Debbie Grant says it's those volunteers who really enhance the services they're able to provide to their patients.
“They enhance what we do. And without them, we would just be at a loss,” Grant says. “They do so many things for us, and we are so appreciative.”
Ginger and Briar have been volunteering for about two and a half years.
PeaceHealth started with one pet therapy team 12 years ago. Today there are 30 teams who volunteer time at Riverbend, Sacred Heart’s University District hospital and in its hospice program.