Mad River Community Hospital has recently welcomed Emma, a fluffy, tri-colored, petite Pembroke Welsh Corgi who is trained in helping others during difficult times. Emma, along with her owner Kathrin Burleson, visits the hospital every Tuesday afternoon to put smiles on the faces of patients, nurses, and doctors.
Emma is the newest and most popular member of the Hospital's Volunteer Services Department. Emma is part of a national group called Therapy Dogs International (TDI). It’s a volunteer group organized to provide qualified handlers and their Therapy Dogs for visitations to hospitals and other care facilities. Emma has gone through extensive testing requirements to become a therapy dog.
Four-footed therapists give something special to enhance the health and well-being of others. It has been clinically proven that through petting, touching, and talking with animals, patients’ blood pressure is lowered, stress is relieved, and depression is eased.
According to Steve Engle, Chief Operations Manager of Mad River Community Hospital, the goal is to develop the Pet Therapy program further, with more dogs and expanding it to the birth center and surgery. Eventually there will also be a program for the employees of the hospital to help busy medical staff relax and de-stress.
“We can do a very good job on the acute care patient. We can take care of their pneumonia, we can take care of their infections, and we can take care of their surgical problems. What I can't do very well sometimes is take care of the emotional problems. If I have a therapist who's a dog and they come in and actually work with the patient, give the patient that better sense of wellbeing, it’s a win-win for everybody," Engle said.
In the photo, from left to right is Kathrin Burleson (Pet Therapy Handler), Emma the Corgi, and Christie Duray (Volunteer Services Manager)