Paws for Patients
The first Barnabas Health Hospice Paws for Patients Volunteer Teams.
There are currently more than 25 volunteers who make more than 950 visits
to patients and families per year.
Tales from Our Pack
Paws for Patients was launched in 2009 by the Barnabas Health Hospice and
Palliative Care Center to further enhance its mission of caring for patients
not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. It is soley
funded by the generosity of its donors and relies on volunteers and their
dogs to provide services to hospice patients and families. The use of
therapy dogs in the health care setting has been proven to help orient
patients, especially those with dementia, to the present moment. According
to Laurie Berkman, Program Coordinator for Paws for Patients, “The
presence of a therapy dog often prompts pleasant reminiscences which helps
patients engage in therapeutic ‘life review’ which is especially
beneficial at end-of life.” Studies show that animal therapy and
pet therapy can decrease anxiety, reduce feelings of isolation, and even
lower blood pressure in patients.
We believe that the emotional and therapeutic benefits of canine therapy
in the hospice setting are immeasurable and we hope Paws for Patients
will become a model program for other hospice organizations. Since 2009,
our supporters have have made it possible for Paws for Patients to expand
from a team of five original volunteers to 25 dedicated volunteer teams,
with a regular presence in more than 10 Essex County long-term care facilities.
Interested in becoming a Paws for Patients volunteer?
Contact Laurie Berkman, Paws for Patients Program Coordinator, at 973-370-8113 or
To support Paws for Patients please go to www.barnabashealth.org/supporthospice