Franciscan Health has introduced its popular pet therapy program to its Munster hospital.
Health system representatives along with therapy dogs and their handlers dedicated the program in Munster with a prayer and blessing on Feb. 15.
“You with your dogs, your animals that are bringing comfort to our patients, you’re bringing little miracles to our patients every day,” Sister Marlene Shapley, vice president for mission integration, said during the dedication. “So on behalf of the administration and on behalf of the sisters, I thank you for your generosity and your willingness to share your animals with us.”
Julie Canady, administrative assistant in the Franciscan Alliance marketing department, began the program and also participates with her therapy dogs, Meiko and Frankie.
“We get such pleasure out of visiting everyone – staff, patients and visitors – with our dogs,” she said.
Franciscan Health introduced its pet therapy program at its Michigan City facility in 2015. It later was expanded to include Franciscan’s Crown Point hospital.
Health system representatives have said visits from therapy dogs bring happiness to patients and help ease any fears or anxiety of being in the hospital.
Franciscan Health’s program has grown to include 29 dogs, including nine that will be visiting in Munster. Dogs must be certified by Therapy Dogs International or Alliance of Therapy Dogs to participate.
Therapy dogs will visit patients at the Munster hospital every Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.