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PAYSON, Ariz. (March 6, 2018) – Banner Payson Medical Center is now offering pet therapy to patients, staff and visitors. The new Caring Canine Program allows a volunteer and their certified dog to make scheduled visits with patients and provide much needed support to those going through a tough medical situation.
Payson resident Michael Colombo and his six-year-old beagle Shiloh will be the first therapy team to kick off the program. The duo joins the hospital from San Diego where they were awarded the “Healthcare Hero” award in 2015.
Shiloh has been visiting hospital patients with Colombo as a certified pet therapy team for the past four and a half years. “She can go into a room and usually sit with a person that needs it the most,” Colombo said of Shiloh. “She can tell when someone’s under a tremendous amount of stress.”
Pet therapy has been proven to help relieve stress and release endorphins that produce a calming effect, in return helping patients in the healing process. Interacting with a friendly pet also helps reduce blood pressure and improve overall cardiovascular health.
Patients can work with their care team to schedule a visit from a canine in the program. In addition, Shiloh will visit with staff and visitors of the hospital on a weekly basis. The dogs involved in the therapy program go through six to 12 months of training and are certified by the state. Companions come in all sizes and breeds, anywhere from Golden Retrievers to Chihuahuas.
Banner Payson encourages those who are interested in volunteering and joining the Caring Canine Program to contact Volunteer Coordinator Jennifer Lawless at (928) 471-1294.
Located in Northern Gila County, Banner Payson Medical Center is a full-service, 25-bed community hospital offering a variety of medical specialties including: rehabilitation, imaging, medical, surgical, maternity and emergency care to residents in the greater Payson area. Banner Payson is part of Banner Health, a nonprofit healthcare system with 28 hospitals in six states. For more information, visit www.BannerHealth.com/Payson.