September 13, 2011
WICHITA, Kansas – Wesley Medical Center is now offering pet therapy every Wednesday from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm for patients in the Pediatric Unit. The seven special volunteers are all certified therapy dogs of all different shapes, sizes and breeds, including mutts.
Interaction with therapy animals has been shown to improve mood, lower blood pressure, promote socialization verbalization and a positive attitude. Dogs don’t see bandages and IVs or anything else that makes a child feel different. In hospitals, the dogs provide these benefits to staff as well as patients.
“The pet therapy group has been a great addition to our programs. We have had great responses from kids and families. Everyone involved has been having a blast,” said Ben Broxterman, child life specialist. The program serves as a great diversion and a fun activity that patients can participate in.
On Wednesday evenings an average of fifteen children interact with the therapy dogs in Wesley’s pediatric playroom as a group, but the dogs and their handlers also visit kids at their bedsides on inpatient and outpatient floors.
Wesley’s therapy dogs are all well trained and conditioned for positive interaction. Their handlers are required to go through a volunteer orientation process, and both dogs and handlers wear Wesley ID badges. Nursing staff, patients and visitors are instructed and observed for adherence to hand washing and making sure that both children and the pets are kept safe and free from hospital–acquired infections. Wesley pediatric staff oversees all interactions with the dogs.
Come meet Wesley’s newest volunteers this Wednesday, September 14 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm at Wesley Medical Center.