St. Francis Hospital now offers a pet therapy program, PAWSitive Pets, with the goal of providing additional emotional support for patients and guests. The hospital's namesake, St. Francis, was known as the patron saint of animals, recognizing their power to positively impact people as a valuable part of God's creation.
“We’re delighted to collaborate with Pet Partners to provide a pet therapy program to benefit our patients and guests,” said Tricia Jeffcoat, Director of Signature Service at St. Francis Hospital. “Pet Partners is the national leader in demonstrating and promoting positive human-animal therapy, activities, and education. Our pet team volunteers are certified through the Pet Partners’ extensive curriculum to ensure the safety of our patients, guests, and staff. Additionally, the volunteers have also completed the significant orientation process that all of our volunteers complete.”
The Pet Partners’ human volunteers wear a designated Pet Partners polo shirt with a St. Francis name badge while the “pet therapists” wear special vests along with St. Francis name badges.
Patients, guests, and employees responded positively to the first visit and were very engaged. Some of the comments heard included:
- “I love dogs and this is wonderful since mine are at home.”
- “This made my day.”
- “This is so wonderful. Thank you.”
Nursing supervisors will coordinate visits with appropriate patients and families. Areas that are restricted from pet therapy include the critical care units, perioperative areas, and isolation rooms.
Pet Partners is the nation’s largest and most prestigious nonprofit organization registering handlers of multiple species as “volunteer teams” to provide animal-assisted interventions. In addition to serving in hospitals, Pet Partners teams interact with a wide variety of clients including veterans with PTSD, seniors living with Alzheimer’s, students with literacy challenges, patients in recovery, people with intellectual disabilities and those approaching the end of life. Pet Partners’ curriculum and continuing education for licensed Instructors, Evaluators and Handlers is considered by many to be the gold standard in the field.
Additionally, Pet Partners offers superior risk management and industry safety standards, continuing education and re-registration for teams and keen attention to dealing with a unique multi-species team population.
Pet Partners’ mission is to improve human health and well-being through the human-animal bond. To learn more or take a quiz to see if you and your pet could be a good fit for the program, visit the website at: www.PetPartners.org.