Downey hospital has new dog therapy program

November 8, 2017 by  

Studies have shown that pet therapy—bringing animals into hospitals to visit patients—has many beneficial effects, and Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital (PIC) has announced it is beginning such a program at PIH Health Hospital in Downey.

The program first started in 2001 at the PIH Health Hospital in Whitter, California. At the time, there was only one therapy dog. Today, there are 15 dogs in the program, in addition to their handlers, who are all volunteers.

Marianne Cota, who is the director of PIH Health Volunteer Services, reveals that the organization’s pet therapy teams are made up of a volunteer handler, and a therapy dog. The dog must have received rigorous training from a recognized organization, have all its shots, and have been inspected and passed by a vet.

Dogs receive a grooming 24 hours or less before they go to a hospital. While they are in the facility, they must be leashed, and their handlers are required to maintain proper hygiene protocols when they take the dogs from patient to patient.

Cota says that everyone, including physicians, staff, and patients, like having the dogs visit, and ask to pet the animals. Studies have revealed that visits from pets benefit both staff and patients, reducing heart rate and blood pressure, decreasing stress, improving physical functioning, and enhancing pain management.

A program like this could be a selling point for a facility, so officials might create brochures that mention the program to potential patients.