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Mon Health Medical Center Highlights its Friendliest and Furriest Volunteers

Posted Date: 2/23/2024
Mon Health Medical Center is proud to offer visits from its therapy animals to both patients and staff when they’re in need of a little pick-me-up. 

The animals of the Mon Health Medical Center Animal Therapy Program are meant to enhance the mood of any patient or staff member that connects with them. Currently, the program is made up of three dogs and two miniature horses that are approved for visits.

“It is always great to see how everyone in the hospital lights up when they interact with our therapy animals,” said Jacob Mulder, Director of Volunteer Services and Guest Services. “We often get calls from our staff when they hear about a visit so that they can run down to see them. Our therapy animals certainly stay busy with photo-ops and lots of pets.”

Research shows that interacting with therapy animals is beneficial to a person’s overall health and recovery. The simple act of petting animals releases serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin, all of which are hormones that play a part in elevating a person’s mood. More specifically, a person’s agitation can go to a calm state, symptoms of anxiety and depression subside, blood pressure and heart rates decrease, and moods elevate, all from a simple pet therapy interaction.

The dogs of the Mon Health Medical Center Animal Therapy Program are owned by volunteers at the hospital. The program also partners with On Eagles’ Wings Therapeutic Horsemanship to provide visits from its two miniature horses.

The therapy animals are certainly valued for their volunteer service to the patients and staff. Recently, Voodoo, the black and white Great Dane volunteering with the program, celebrated his 7th birthday. Staff gathered to share their love for Voodoo and provided a birthday cake for him to enjoy on his special day.

“Voodoo has crossed paths with many humans along the way. At every encounter he greets them at their level of life that they may be experiencing. He makes no judgement. He loves them unconditionally. He patiently leans in to listen without feedback. He is simply there to make their heart smile, and if only for just a small moment in time, pause the world of worries and sickness by replacing it with joy and contentment,” said Juli Jones, Voodoo’s owner and employee at Mon Health Medical Center. “He is the true definition of healing. It was Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, who initially wrote about the benefits of animals in patient care and recovery. I would like to believe that she is smiling at the healing of hearts from the inside out being accomplished today with Pet Therapy.”

To learn more about Mon Health Medical Center volunteer efforts and more programs like the Animal Therapy Program, visit MonHealth.com/Main/Volunteer.
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