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MESA (Aug. 10, 2023) - Banner Desert Medical Center and Banner Children’s at Desert are looking for some friendly and dedicated volunteers of the four-legged kind. Canine volunteers for the dog therapy program must be obedient, able to learn and neatly groomed. In addition, they must readily accept strangers and sit still amongst distractions.
The program at Banner Desert and Banner Children’s accepts dogs of all shapes and sizes. In addition to “man’s best friend,” dog handlers are included in the volunteer services program.
Research has shown dog therapy can actually help patients with their health and provide a more positive experience while they’re in the hospital, says Carly Ofsthun, Banner Desert and Banner Children’s volunteer services senior manager.
Ofsthun said, “We’ve seen so many times where that visit can make an impact, not only for our patients while they go through a difficult time, but for their family members and our staff, as well.”
George is a Golden Doodle/Lab mix and has been volunteering at both facilities for years with his handler Jim Young. One day they visited 16-year-old patient Gracelyn Brady at Banner Children’s at Desert. Gracelyn loves animals and has a few dogs of her own. While she was in the hospital, she missed her dogs and the interaction through the dog therapy program made her day.
Gracelyn said she loved interacting with the pet therapy dogs, getting to know more about them and could not wait to get home to be with her own pets.
“It makes me feel calm that someone is there for me,” said Brady. “When you pet them, they sometimes give you peace and they don’t judge you, usually.”
Ofsthun said the hospitals are getting more requests from patients and staff for dog therapy visits, which led to seeking more volunteers.
For more information on how you and your dog can become a dog therapy volunteer, email Ofsthun at [email protected].
Banner Health is one of the largest, secular nonprofit health care systems in the country. In addition to 30 acute-care hospitals, Banner also operates an academic medicine division, Banner – University Medicine, and Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, a partnership with one of the world’s leading cancer programs, MD Anderson Cancer Center. Banner’s array of services includes a health insurance division, employed physician groups, outpatient surgery centers, urgent care locations, home care and hospice services, retail pharmacies, stand-alone imaging centers, physical therapy and rehabilitation, behavioral health services, a research division and a nursing registry. To make health care easier, 100% of Banner-employed doctors are available for virtual visits and patients may also reserve spots at Banner Urgent Care locations and can book appointments online with many Banner-employed doctors. Headquartered in Arizona, Banner Health also has locations in California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming. For more information, visit bannerhealth.com.