A pet’s companionship, comfort and non-judgmental nature can be a powerful therapeutic tool in health care. Hudson Hospital & Clinic recently celebrated their Pet Therapy Program with an open house on Wednesday, August 5 at the hospital conference center. A special recognition certificate from the Therapy Dogs International for Outstanding Active Volunteerism was presented to Bob Molenda and his dog, Finnegan for completing over 150 visits to hospital patients.
For over ten years, Hudson Hospital’s Pet Therapy Program has been available to patients. All of the dogs that participate are licensed by Therapy Dogs International. This requires they take a course and pass a test which includes obedience training and exposure to wheel chairs, walkers, crutches and sudden noises such as a bed pan dropping. At Hudson Hospital, Rosa Magnus, volunteer and HR coordinator, heads up the program and Emily LaBadie, CTRS, Rehabilitation Care, coordinates the pet therapy visits with patients and their care staff. "We have a great group of Pet Therapy teams,” says Magnus. "They come from all walks of life and they are really dedicated – usually at least one visits each day."
The teams of trained handlers and animals help patients achieve specific physical, social, cognitive, and emotional goals. They volunteer their time and compassion sharing their dogs to contribute to the well-being of patients, visitors and staff. Patients and guests have commented that even on their hardest day dealing with an illness or that of loved one, they are comforted and encouraged when they see, touch and spend time with these furry pets. “They often bring joy to those who are sad, calm to those who are anxious and relaxation to those who are stressed,” says Magnus. Hudson Hospital has many pet therapy teams in the program including: (from Hudson, Wisc.) Rick Ottino with dog Caesar, Alisha Bjorklund with dog Jazz, Tara Rowen with Nova, and Jerry Zappa with dogs Pilot, Misty and Murphy; (from Roberts, Wisc.; Beth Renstrom with dog Jeressa; and (from Stillwater, Minn.); Bob Molenda with dog Finnegan, and Carla Opheim with dog Buddy.
Pictured above from the Hudson Hospital Pet Therapy Program include: Rosa Magnus, volunteer and HR coordinator, Hudson Hospital & Clinic; Alisha Bjorklund and dog Jazz; Bob Molenda and dog Finnegan; Rick Ottino with dog Caesar; Karen Huppert, RN, Hudson Hospital & Clinic; Erika Schendel, manager, Social Services, Hudson Hospital & Clinic; and Carla Opheim with dog Buddy.