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Maple Grove Voice

Healing Help Comes with Four Legs at Maple Grove Hospital

Aug 15, 2017 08:02PM ● By Doug Erlien

Photo Provided by Maple Grove Hospital

Volunteering takes many forms at Maple Grove Hospital, including four legged volunteers. For the last two years, Maple Grove Hospital has offered patients the opportunity for visits by one of six dog/human teams.

“Every shift is different, but typically our volunteers check in at the nursing stations in Intensive Care and Medical Surgical Care to see if there are any customers that would particularly like a visit,” Volunteer Services 
CVA Manager Jennifer Nelson said. “Before leaving, our teams stop by the Emergency Care Center to visit with team members. Of course, there is visiting happening with guests and team members throughout the hospital, the dog/human teams are never not working.”

The impact of volunteer animals has been proven. According to 
Pet Partners, a non-profit dedicated to improving human health and well-being through the human-animal bond, the dogs have a positive effect on patients’ pain levels and tanimals in pediatric cancer studies improved motivation to participate and to want to “get better” or stay optimistic, according to their website.

The stories at Maple Grove Hospital prove the teams work is paying off.

“Personally, I know of stories of pets visiting a dying patient who ironically had the same dog growing up,” Nelson said. “It gave great comfort to the patient and family.”

The feedback has been great and most of the teams hear genuine thanks during and at the end of their visits. Which is the most meaningful token of appreciation for them.

It isn’t just patients who benefit from the animals, the staff at the hospital are also enjoying visits from four legged friends.

“There is the story of a dog/human team visiting the Emergency Care Center team and a nurse burying her face in the dog’s fur and crying,” Nelson said. “Perhaps she was dealing with something in her personal life or a stressful customer situation. We will never know, but we do know that having a pet visit to relieve some stress was greatly appreciated.”

The local volunteer animal group is 
North Star Therapy Animals, an organization started in 2007 aimed at providing volunteer animal teams and services to facilities to the Minneapolis and St. Paul area.

Click here for more information on volunteering opportunities at Maple GroveHospital.

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