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Release Date: 04/21/2015
The Center for Rehabilitation at Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island has launched a pet therapy program to enhance the environment of care for patients of all age levels.

Keith Rafal, MD, MPH, chief of rehab and medical director of the Center for Rehabilitation, said, “Memorial Hospital’s pet therapy program is a special way we show compassion for our patients, their families and hospital staff.” 

Pet therapy is a guided interaction between a patient and a trained animal. It also involves the animal’s handler. Therapy dogs are family pets, not service dogs like those that assist the disabled. These dogs are obedient and deal well with different situations and enjoy meeting people. 

Memorial’s program is offered to patients on the Center for Rehabilitation, both in the therapy area and patient rooms. Susan Higgins, owner / handler of her pug dog, Bridget, currently visits Memorial’s rehab patients once a week for one hour. Bridget has been a therapy dog for the past six years. 

Dr. Rafal adds, “You can feel the joy and see the smiles that our lovable volunteers bring to all.” 

The owners ensure their animals meet all the standards set by Therapy Dogs International, Inc. for medical pet therapy, including providing licensing, credentialing and general liability insurance. Please contact Memorial Hospital Volunteer Services at (401) 729-2325 or if you are interested in learning more about the pet therapy program.

About Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island

Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, serves as the major teaching affiliate of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and the chief site for the medical school's primary care academic program. Research focuses on primary care and disease prevention, including osteoarthritis, heart disease, cancer, pulmonary function, maternal and child health and women’s health issues.

Memorial provides health services for the people of Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts including oncology, cardiovascular, orthopedics, rehabilitation, pain management, and diagnostics. Memorial offers primary care services in Pawtucket, Central Falls and Plainville, Massachusetts.

Pet Therapy Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island