Oliver A new face at HUP has many patient units clamoring for his services. It's not his medical knowledge. And it's not an ability to multitask. Rather, it’s his sweet personality and positive effect on both staff and patient morale.

Say hello to Oliver, the Maltese Yorkie.

A New Breed of Volunteer

As a member of HUP’s new animal assisted therapy program, aka HUP’s Pups, Oliver has won the hearts of all he meets. Whether he’s sitting quietly on owner Michaela Petrone’s lap in a patient’s room or en route from one room to another, his presence seems to bring out the best in everyone.

Oliver-and-michaela Oliver, a new ‘breed’ of volunteer, is a registered pet therapy dog, which means he has completed the necessary training to interact safely with patients. He is one of three dogs that participate in HUP’s program, along with Tugger, the brown lab, and Seamus, a King Charles Cavalier spaniel.  Each comes for two-hour visits, stopping in to see patients who have requested a visit. Petrone said Oliver generally spends his time sitting quietly on her lap or on a towel on a patient’s bed, close enough to let the patient pet him.

Julianne Joblanski, MSN, RN, CCRN, CCNS, of Rhoads 5, who developed the program with Donna Griffith, director of Volunteer Services, explained that in addition to the training, all dogs in the program must be up to date on all immunizations and undergo a final check up with a Penn veterinarian and a specialist to screen for behavior problems. The dog must be bathed within 24 hours of all visits as well.

Petrone, who is a member of HUP’s Staffing for All Seasons, volunteers her time to the program. “I’m happy to do it. One patient, who had been anxious for days, calmed down considerably after petting him,” she said. “Her heart rate went down and her breathing became more regular. The family was so happy.”

Silverstein 9 and Ravdin 9 are the first units to adopt the program but, based on the initial successful results, Joblanski plans to expand the program to additional units.

“The dogs brighten the entire unit,” she said. “It’s good for the staff and the patients, a positive distraction.”

Dog-therapy-id Is Your Dog a Possible ‘Therapist?’

HUP’s Pups, the new animal assisted therapy program, has been such a hit with both patients and staff that Volunteer Services is looking for a few more good dogs to visit patients. To learn more about the program or getting your dog certified, please contact Donna Griffith at 662-2576.

Did You Know?

Pennsylvania Hospital has had a pet therapy program for approximately 10 years, with several loveable pups who spread cheer to all areas of the hospital. The program began in the Skilled Care Unit and has expanded over time.

HUP's Pups on TV!

[Update, January 17, 2011] HUP's Pups were featured on NBC Philadelphia on Friday, January 14. Watch the video embedded below or on the NBC Philadelphia website.

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/video.

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