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Sun, Dec. 15

'Angels' perform miracle work with YRMC patients

Courtesy photo/Heidi Dahms

In this photo illustration, Esther Houston pets Moon, an Australian shepherd Delta Society Dog, while owner/handler Kathy Bryan looks on. Houston is herself a Delta Society volunteer with her dog Rosie.

"Every (team) has stories to tell about how the dogs affect the lives of patients, families and visitors," said Yavapai Humane Society Animal Behaviorist Gary DeGeronimo, who, with Volunteer Director Lynell Walters, tailored the program to YRMC. DeGeronimo has been a therapy dog consultant since 1988, and is a certified evaluator for dog/handler teams interested in becoming part of the Delta Society.

Walters had heard about the program, and thought it would be a good fit for YRMC's "Total Healing Environment" concept.

She said the program has been a huge success at YRMC.

"The reception has been overwhelmingly positive," she said. "We are looking now for (the teams) to go into more complex environments."

Delta teams now visit only certain floors of the hospital, but as staff and administration sees their positive impact, they are looking at how to incorporate them into more areas of YRMC. These may include the emergency room, cath lab, IV therapy areas, and even intensive care, Walters said.

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