Canine Therapy Teams Honored for Hospice Work
Barnabas Health Hospice and Palliative Care Center (BHHPCC) in West Orange "went to the dogs" recently at an evening of celebration where they recognized the accomplishments of three of its Paws for Patients canine therapy program volunteer teams.
Paws for Patients pairs trained hospice volunteers and their therapy dogs with patients and families who request a pet therapy visit.
Three volunteer/dog teams were honored, including Michael Allen of Maplewood and his Newfoundland, Ticee; Verona Residents Denise Bastanza and her mother-daughter team of Samoyeds, Faith and Sarah; and Dotty Ostella and her Corgi, Haley, also of Verona, according to a press release from BHHPC.
“As members of Passport to Health, the Paws for Patients teams being honored will receive complimentary screenings by a number of our board-certified veterinary specialists, including the departments of Internal Medicine, Cardiology, Surgery, Neurology and Ophthalmology,” announced Betty Pyatak-Monaghan, VMD, Chief Operating Officer, AERA and AEC of NJ, which has also been the lead sponsor of BHHPCC’s annual October Tails event to benefit Paws for Patients for the past two years. “We feel it is vital to ensure that the dogs who are helping to care for those who are seriously ill have access to the best possible medical care for themselves.”
Michael Allen of Maplewood and his Newfoundland, Ticee, were also honored as the “new team to watch” and received a gift certificate for a free grooming session donated by Lisa Lent of Puppy Love in Maplewood. Since joining the “pack” in June 2011, the pair has made more than 100 visits and donated more than 40 hours to the program.
Paws for Patients was launched in 2009, starting with 5 volunteer/dog teams. Now numbering 35 teams, the program regularly visits more than 10 Essex County long-term care facilities, and projects visiting more than 150 patients during 2012.
“The emotional and therapeutic benefits of canine therapy in the hospice setting are immeasurable,” says Berkman. “Our pet therapy teams bring good cheer, offer a distraction from thoughts of illness and prompt reminiscing among patients and families – something that is so important during the end-of-life process. We are proud to offer this service to patients, thankful for the generosity of our volunteer teams and donors, and grateful for the continued support of AERA and AEC of NJ.”
For more information about the Barnabas Health Hospice and Palliative Care Center Paws for Patients canine therapy program or to make a donation, please contact Laurie Berkman, Program Coordinator, at 973-322-4800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.