Therapy dog Nic is a rock star at Saint Thomas Midtown hospital

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  • Medical care dogs: They ain’t only for patients anymore
  • Hospitals an increasing number of are using therapy dogs to enhance staff morale
  • Could YOUR dog be a therapy dog?

The squeals, claps and cheers exploded the second Nic walked into the nurses station.

“Is he here? Nic’s here? Hey, Nic’s here!” 

Several more nurses, smiling, with hands clasped together, stream in from across the labor and delivery floor at Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital Midtown.

He’s swarmed as he rushes from nurse to nurse, matching their frenetic energy while looking for snacks and scratches.

Nic, the three 3-year-old goldendoodle, is a rock star.

After a minute, nurse Amy Smith, typing at her desk, looked down: “Nic, do you must chart with me?” 

Nic immediately flopped his two front paws on the desk and looked on while the opposite nurses squealed again.

“That is so cute!” one shouted.

Yes indeed. It really really was.

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No less than once per week, Nic or one in every of his fellow volunteer therapy dogs visit the hospital, purportedly to bring joy to healing patients.

But most doctors, nurses and techs love the pups, too.

“We’ve got been specializing in our pet therapy teams visiting with staff during 2022,” said Jan Brown, the hospital’s volunteer services coordinator. “Leadership got here to me and asked if we could make that occur to spice up morale and help relieve stress.”

Medical tech Diamond Hodges, 27, agrees.

“We want you on this floor day-after-day!” Hodges told Nic as she scratched him behind the ears on the surgery floor.

Nic and the opposite therapy dogs (and their volunteer handlers, after all) still visit patients. 

Nic in truth lept right into the hospital bed with heart patient Gene Meyers, 83, from Smyrna. And Meyers loved it: “I’ve had dogs all my life,” Meyers said while patting Nic’s furry backside. “That is great.”

So, quick query: Would your dog be really great at this? Think you’d like to have your pooch visit patients and staff?

In that case, there are organizations that may certify your pet to change into a therapy dog. Two of them are Pet Partners and Therapy Dogs International.

You furthermore may can check with Saint Thomas hospital volunteer coordinators Jan Brown and Patrick Houseman on easy methods to volunteer.

Reach Brad Schmitt at brad@tennessean.com or 615-259-8384 or on Twitter @bradschmitt.