Sunday, May 20, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 11

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on October 29th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 34 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 14, Issue 34

Community Corner: Marian hospital's dog therapy program is expanding


Volunteers for Marian Regional Medical Center’s pet therapy program dressed up for Halloween on Oct. 29. The program has expanded to include nine dog-human volunteer teams.

The canine-human family just keeps growing at Marian Regional Medical Center! When the Sun wrote about the hospital’s new pet therapy program in September, there were four people and their dogs working only one to two days a week. Now there are nine teams working three to four days a week, according to Dignity Health officials.

Marian’s sister hospital, Arroyo Grande Community Hospital, started the program in August and currently has 2 dogs. French Hospital Medical Center in SLO began its program at the end of September.

Animal-assisted therapy involves animals in the healing process. Studies show that the presence of animals has a positive effect on human physiology and reduces feelings of stress and anxiety. Currently, only dogs are included in the program.

Individual bedside visits can be requested by the patient, the patient’s doctor, nurse, therapist, or a family member. There is liaison at each facility who helps to coordinate visits. Visits can occur at various times during the weekday, evening, and weekend.

“I wanted to volunteer in the community because Santa Maria is such a loving, giving community and I wanted to be part of that,” pet therapy volunteer Barbara James told the Sun in September. She and her golden doodle Chloe work at Marian Regional Medical Center.

The volunteer therapy animals and handlers have to be trained and certified. They receive in-depth training about hospital infection control practices and strict hand-hygiene measures are enforced to ensure cleanliness and adhere to regulations. Participating dogs are required to have up-to-date vaccinations and are bathed 24 hours prior to visiting.

The therapy dogs are selected for their unique personalities and ability to interact with a variety of patient personalities.  Pet therapy dogs are also identified with volunteer hospital identification badges to denote their affiliation with the program.

For more information about the program at Marian Regional Medical Center, call Judy Hoffman at 739-3774.


Managing Editor Amy Asman compiled this week’s Community Corner. Information should be sent to the Sun via mail, e-mail, or fax.

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