There is a lot happening in the Volunteer Department of Good Shepherd Hospital—and not all of the volunteers are the two-legged kind.
Meet Ruby, one of the therapy dogs at the hospital. Each Monday, Ruby makes the rounds to see patients, families and staff to help them feel calm and loved.
"I'm here usually once a week for treatment," said patient Jane Hiller. When asked if the dogs help her experience at the hospital, she answered, "Oh yeah, the time goes by really quickly."
Ruby’s handler, Betty Gallagher, knew from the moment she got Ruby as a pet that she’d be perfect for this type of job.
"She passed her testing and I decided to call the hospital and see if they needed anybody, and sure enough they were testing so we thought we'd try it. She passed (her test) and we've been doing it for about two years now," Gallagher said.
"I have a couple of staff people that see her regularly, and they tell me that they have had a bad day and this is the highlight of their day. Sometimes people are here a long time, and it breaks up their day or their time here where it gives them something else to think about," Gallagher added.
Ruby is one of many therapy dogs working at Good Shepherd. In total, there are more than a dozen who frequent the halls here. The program was started in 2009 by a group of three staff members, including Volunteer Services Manager Julie Zuidema.
"When people are here, for the most part, they're really stressed. They are worried and not feeling their best. Even if they're not the patient, even if they're a family member. So if we can give them a minute to just smile, and just forget about what else is going on for them," Zuidema said.
To learn more about how you can get involved with the therapy dog program at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital, contact Zuidema at Julie.Zuidema@advocatehealth.com or call (847) 381-0123 extension: 265094.