Our own Julie Wade and Jake made the Johnson City News and Neighbor:
“Do you know of any patients who need some pet therapy?” asks Julie Wade as she checks in for her weekly visit to Franklin Woods Hospital’s second and third floors.Jake is one sweet dog. We gave him a blessing when we blessed the animals. Get a blessing. Be a blessing.
The retired biology teacher and pre-med advisor with Milligan College has discovered a way to integrate her love of dogs with her medical interests in becoming a volunteer for Mountain States Health Alliance’s (MSHA) pet therapy program.
When she and her six-year-old golden retriever, arrive at the hospital, the response is immediate. Everyone wants to pet Jake and Jake loves the attention.
Julie got Jake from a golden retriever rescue organization in Knoxville. He had some separation anxiety issues which “make him a natural for pet therapy,” she says. He loves being around people.
“We see more caregivers than we do patients,” explains Julie as we walk past work stations and staff call out greetings and give Jake’s silky head a rub.
Julie says patients, even those in pain, “just light up when they see Jake.”
Dr. Grauman Wiksten, a patient, calls out to bring Jake into his room. “I’m not allergic,” he exclaims, explaining that he spent 30 years working for the Department of Agriculture after a few years in private practice as a veterinarian.
Pet therapy dogs and their handlers never go into patients’ rooms without receiving permission. Lisa James, RNBC, who coordinates MSHA’s pet therapy program, says if a patient has a fear or phobia about animals that is certainly taken into consideration. However, for many patients, petting an animal provides a release of stress or tension and has been shown to lower blood pressure. It can also help a depressed or lonely patient find an emotional outlet.
Julie and Jake pay once-a-week visits to Franklin Woods and Johnson City Medical Center and occasionally visit nursing homes.
Pet therapy dogs must be certified and complete testing and evaluation before they are allowed in a medical setting. They must have current vaccinations and insurance and be bathed and groomed before visiting the hospital.
For more information about MSHA’s pet therapy program, contact Lisa James in Patient-Centered Care at 431-1678. Check out www.tdi-dog.org for information on how to get your dog certified for pet therapy.