Greenville, N.C. (WNCT)- Vidant Hospitals are implementing animal assisted therapy across the east.
Vidant Medical Center is looking for volunteers and their dogs to assist in therapy for patients. Through this program, volunteers and their furry friends are bringing comfort to patients in need.
Four paws and a wagging tail… That’s what brings comfort to patients at Vidant Hospital.
“We’ve seen great results, said Deborah Marshburn, Vidant recreational therapist, “people say it reduces their blood pressure and sometimes it just makes you smile”
Volunteers certify their dogs through the online organization Pet Partners and then sign up with their local hospital services.
“Walking down the hall… anywhere we go… walking with your dog you get a smile,” said Sammy Mills, Pet Partner volunteer, “that’s very rewarding.”
Sammy Mills and his dog Mickey have been volunteering for years. Mickey has brought comfort to those in critical condition, but it’s the smiles that Mickey brings to patients that make the experience priceless.
“Some people say well do you get paid,” said Mills pointing to his heart, “I don’t get paid with money, I get paid right here.”
For Nikki Armstrong, the program meant so much more.
“My husband was not here and we have a dog,” said Nikki Armstrong, Vidant patient, “we don’t have any other children, but my dog was essentially my first child and it was hard being ripped away.”
Pregnant with twins, Nikki was in the hospital for 50 days after complications arose from preventing a pre-term delivery. The program and her German Shepard, Reggie, helped get her through those days.
“It was nice to be able to see him and be able to cuddle with him and have a little sense of normalcy,” said Armstrong.
The program is one of a kind that offers a service humans just simply cannot.
“I tell my wife I say in a lot of ways dogs are better than people you know they love you every day,” said Sammy Mills, “and its unconditional love.”
To learn more about the program and to get involved visit https://petpartners.org/