Memorial Hermann The Woodlands’ Newest Volunteer to Charm Patients, Staff with Sniffs, Licks and a Wag of her Tail
THE WOODLANDS, TX (January05,
THE WOODLANDS, Texas (Jan. 5, 2009) -- Patients and staff at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital recently met the hospital's newest volunteer - a 7-year-old Tibetan terrier named "Shintsa." Shintsa, a retired show dog, and her owner Jackie Kaar, a RN at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands, are the first certified therapy dog team to join the hospital's newly established pet visitation program.
"We anticipate that our patients and staff will experience tremendous benefits as a result of this program," said Steve Sanders, Memorial Hermann The Woodlands chief executive officer. "In fact, research indicates that interaction with an animal can lower a patient's blood pressure, reduce stress, increase optimism, improve morale, and speed the healing process."
Memorial Hermann The Woodlands credits Kaar in part for the creation of the program. After learning the hospital was interested in pet therapy, Kaar willingly volunteered her time and her dog to get the program started.
Dogs like Shintsa must be evaluated by a veterinarian to make sure they are healthy, up-to-date on vaccinations and well tempered before they can participate in Memorial Hermann The Woodlands' pet visitation program. Additionally, canine participants must be certified by a pet therapy certification organization.
Shintsa is certified by The Delta Society, an international, non-profit, human service organization that promotes human health and well-being through interactions with companion animals. Shintsa and Kaar earned the certification upon completion of didactic and skills labs.
In order for Shintsa to become a certified therapy dog, she not only had to master basic commands like "sit," "stay," and "heel," but she also had to learn how to comfortably and confidently maneuver around standard hospital equipment such as wheelchairs and walkers.
Currently, Shintsa and Kaar make rounds each Wednesday afternoon. However, the goal is to grow the program with additional handlers and dogs so that patients and staff can experience the healing benefits of pet therapy more than one day per week.
For more information on Memorial Hermann The Woodlands' pet visitation program and how to become involved, contact Susan Shelander, manager of volunteer services, at 281.364.2392.
An integrated health system, Memorial Hermann is known for world-class clinical expertise, patient-centered care, leading edge technology, and innovation. Memorial Hermann serves the greater Houston community through 11 hospitals and many specialty programs and services, including three premier Heart & Vascular Institutes, TIRR|Memorial Hermann, Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital, a Sports Medicine Institute, the Mischer Neuroscience Institute, seven comprehensive Cancer Centers, 27 sports medicine and rehabilitation centers, a substance abuse treatment center and dozens of other specialty and outpatient centers. Memorial Hermann operates one of two level 1 trauma centers in Houston and provides the Life Flight air ambulance program as well as the city's only burn treatment center. To learn more, visit www.memorialhermann.org, or call 713.222.CARE.