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Finding Joy in the Hospital

When people think of going to a hospital for an appointment, procedure, or to visit loved ones, they might experience a heightened sense of anxiety. Going to the doctor can bring up previous bad experiences or sad memories. But good things happen at hospitals and clinics all the time. Babies are born, people heal, and staff makes a difference every day. 

Two of Southwest Health’s newest employees are making a difference for both patients and their coworkers. These employees include Southwest Health’s therapy dogs, Finley and Bubba. The last day of April recognizes National Therapy Animal Day to acknowledge the work these dogs and their handlers do for our community.

Finley is certified through Therapy Dog International to comfort Southwest Health patients whenever he visits. If a patient wants to visit with Finley on the Med/Surg floor or Emergency Department, they leave a sign on their door, and Finley stops by to say hi. He’s already made a tremendous impact, and patients and staff know him and his handler, Tracy Allen, by name!

Bubba is a certified therapy dog through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs. His handler, Kori Schumacher-Barry, APNP, is a Family Medicine Provider at Southwest Health’s Platteville Clinic. When she brings Bubba to work with her, everyone enjoys seeing them!

For people experiencing pain or discomfort while at Southwest Health, a requested visit from Finley or Bubba can provide many benefits. According to UCLA Health, visiting with a dog can lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, and lower overall physical pain.

As the name implies, therapy dogs are meant to comfort people with physical or emotional needs or who need a boost from a friendly dog like Finley or Bubba. They intend to improve the overall quality of life by enhancing a person’s emotional well-being. Unlike service dogs, therapy dogs are evaluated and certified, enabling them to go with their handler into various settings, including medical facilities. Therapy dogs can provide a distraction, increase comfort, and bring smiles throughout the hospital.