Therapy dogs making rounds at Jefferson Hospital

Therapy dogs making rounds at Jefferson Hospital

JEFFERSON HILLS, Pa. — As Chloe walks into Jefferson Hospital, she’s immediately greeted with a smile and a scratch.

The Great Pyrenees is one of two therapy dogs that makes the rounds at the Allegheny Health Network hospital.

AHN wants to add more therapy dogs to the lineup at Jefferson Hospital.

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When Chloe is there, the conversation is easy.

“She breaks the ice with them because she’s a big, white fuzzball,” owner Dennis Durbiano said. “Sometimes we’ll just go in and start wandering the halls and the staff loves her.”

The therapy dogs have to be certified to volunteer at the hospital.

Chloe’s been doing it for two and a half years. The Great Pyrenees’ calm demeanor makes her a perfect fit for the job.

“You actively see the good it does. I can reach 100 people in an afternoon and it’s really something,” Durbiano said.

The pair have been volunteering for two years and their work has been shown to help patients and staff.

“They really help patients calm down and relax, and it helps the people who are caring for them calm down and relax,” Kristi Rain-Jeras, physician adviser at Jefferson Hospital, said.

Megan Chapman, program manager for the Volunteer Resources Department at Jefferson Hospital, said studies have shown dogs lower blood pressure and are good for emotional well-being.

Chapman has seen patients’ faces light up.

“You need that breakup and different things to keep your attitude going. It was great. I was glad to see him,” Sue Wieczenski, a patient, said.

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