Gift That Lifts Spirits

August 01, 2014
Pawsitive Pet Program
The decision to fund a specific project at Providence Saint John’s Health Center always produces significant benefits. Not only do these gifts advance important hospital objectives, they also impact lives in ways that are difficult to imagine.

One example is the gift received earlier this year from the Petco Foundation to continue funding the Paula Kent Meehan Pawsitive Pet Program. The Pawsitive Pet Program involves about three dozen pet owners and their specially selected and trained dogs that provide bedside visits to patients requesting the service.

In 2013, Pawsitive Pet volunteer teams made 2,103 visits to patients, scheduling visits nearly every day of the year and on every floor. Meehan has generously funded the program for many years.

Studies show that in addition to promoting relaxation, boosting the immune system and lowering blood pressure and heart rate, animal visitation helps to bring a sense of normalcy and joy to the bedside.

After a visit with a patient, volunteers leave the pet’s “dog trading card,” showing a photo and fun facts.

Areas of the hospital that receive special attention from the volunteer teams include medical-surgical, oncology, orthopedics and critical care. Visitation hours have been expanded on all floors to include Wednesday evenings. In addition, teams now make scheduled visits to the surgery waiting room, Cleft Palate Center, the Child Family and Development Center’s adult developmentally delayed group and therapeutic preschool.

The dogs also provide a bit of respite to busy health care workers. Grenda Pearlman, director of volunteers, reports that nurses look forward to seeing the dogs come to their floor, and even physicians often stop for a moment to pet a pooch. We are grateful to Paula Kent Meehan’s years of support and for the grant from the Petco Foundation. Both have truly made a difference.

To learn more about supporting any of these projects, please call Gail Drewniak in the Foundation office at 310-829-8175.