Gone to the Dogs

CHRISTUS Spohn Alice welcomes four-legged friends to comfort and rehabilitate patients.

By: Steven Alford
Photos By: Steven Alford

“This hospital has gone to the dogs,” proclaimed CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Alice VP/COO Steven Daniel as three pet therapy canines entered the building’s front door. “And that’s a good thing!”

The four-legged visitors and their handlers were part of a recent Paws Up social event that gave CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Alice associates, visitors and volunteers the chance to meet the group for the first time face to snout.

It’s all part of a more than year-long effort by hospital leaders to bring the Pet Partners therapy dogs to Alice. The dogs have visited patients in Corpus Christi for the past several years.

One such dog at the social, a pepper-gray miniature schnauzer named Angel, even came ready to work: The 8-year-old pup arrived dressed in a nursing outfit, white cap included.
Dog-handler, Jan Sierman, is excited to be bringing her English springer spaniel, Star, to visit patients closer to her own home. “I live here in Alice,” she said, “so we’re looking forward to coming home to work on the weekends and do something good here in our own community at the same time.”

The Paws Up social included a meet-and-greet opportunity for CHRISTUS Spohn care providers and the pet therapy dogs, as well as some special treats for attendees.

CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Alice Volunteer President Mary Ruth Alexander presented all of the three dogs with their own commemorative dog bowls filled with delectable treats. Human guests also were treated to dog-bone shaped cookies and dog-shaped cakes. “Look at how happy they are,” Alexander said while handing out the gifts to canines. “They can’t wait for a treat.”

The dogs will provide comfort and calm for CHRISTUS Spohn patients who are pet-lovers, but might be missing their own furry friends during their hospital stay in Alice, according to Alice Chief Nursing Officer Margot Rios. “Some just want to be home to see their own pets,” she said, “and having these dogs here will really help fill that need.”

But the therapy dogs also play a vital role in the rehabilitation of some CHRISTUS Spohn patients, Rios added. Those patients who need to strengthen their motor skills, for instance, can participate in activities with the therapy dogs, including brushing their hair or taking them for a stroll.

It’s a fun, out-of-the-box way for patients to heal and feel good at the same time. “We’re just excited they’re here,” Daniel said after posing for a few photos with the Paws Up group. “They are going to make a great addition to our healing environment.”

About CHRISTUS Spohn Health System
CHRISTUS Spohn Health System is the region’s largest health care system consisting of six hospital campuses: CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi (Shoreline, Memorial and South), CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Alice, CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Beeville and CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Kleberg (Kingsville). The health system is consistently ranked a leading health system in the area, and it has received national recognition for several pioneering programs, including cardiac care, clinical excellence and oncology. For more than 100 years, CHRISTUS Spohn has been distinguished by its high-caliber staff and affiliated physicians, its comprehensive and innovative services and its long history of responding to the needs of the community it serves. For more information, visit www.christusspohn.org.

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