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St. Joseph’s Launches Therapy Pet Program


SYRACUSE – St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center recently instituted a therapy pet program in the hospital to offer a way for patients to experience the evidence-based healing power of the human-animal connection.

Working with Pet Partners of Syracuse, St. Joseph’s will have four separate animal/handler teams that will visit in two-hour blocks, first in the main lobby and waiting areas and later in patient care areas, as appropriate.

“St. Joseph’s is committed to providing personalized care that recognizes the benefits of integrating traditional medicine with complementary medicine,” said Deborah Welch, vice president for people. “Research shows that therapy animals can provide emotional support for patients with stress, anxiety and loneliness; thereby contributing toward a better quality of life.”[i]

In addition to therapy pets, St. Joseph’s is offers other complementary therapies to hospitalized patients, including therapeutic music. It also is focused on the healing environment, adding natural lighting where appropriate and implementing noise reduction efforts on the patient units.

St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center is a non-profit, 431-bed hospital and health care system in Syracuse, New York, providing services to patients in 16 counties in Central New York State. Through prevention programs and the latest diagnostic treatment procedures, St. Joseph's works with patients to achieve optimum long-term health. A 15-time winner of the National Research Corporation Consumer Choice award, St. Joseph’s is affiliated with Franciscan Companies and sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis.

CUTLINE: The newest therapy pet is blessed as part of the Feast of St. Francis, a celebration held Oct. 4, often marked with blessing of animals.



[i] Halm, Margo A., RN, PhD, APRN-BC, CCRN. “The Healing Power of the Human-Animal Connection,” American Journal of Critical Care. July 2008, Volume 17, No. 4.