PMC Volunteers Needed to Bring Emotional Boost to Patients

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STROUDSBURG -- Volunteers in the Poconos are showing how man's best friend can be the best medicine.

The group is helping patients at Pocono Medical Center feel better with the help of therapy dogs.

Hilda and Bailey make their rounds at Pocono Medical Center in East Stroudsburg. Much like nurses and doctors, these two are checking on their patients. But instead of administering shots, their medicine comes in the form of wagging tails.

"They make my day," said Danielle Rivera, a patient at Pocono Medical Center.

Hilda and Bailey are certified therapy dogs. Their handlers, Joel Schwartz and Maria Germana-Kucer, come along and let their furry companions take the lead.

"It's just a wonderful thing. It's a no cost item. I just share my dog's love. I just walk with her, she does all the work," said Schwartz.

"She gets so excited when she sees the nurses. She rolls over and is so excited. As soon as she walks into the room, her demeanor changes and she's calm and she's quiet," said Germana-Kucer.

These "doctor dogs" are part the Complementary and Alternative Medicine volunteer program at Pocono Medical Center.

The program also offers things like yoga, art and music. All of which give patients a big boost.

"It's very difficult in the hospital sometimes, you're not feeling well, You could be feeling kind of down.  So to have a volunteer come in and be with you, really makes a big difference," said Jill Howell, the PMC Medical Art Therapist.

"I kind of feel it makes them want to get better," said Germana-Kucer.

"They are definitely a positive for all of us, we love to see them. They search me out cause I love to see the puppy dogs.  But they really help the patients, the staff, they make a big difference," said Christine Newberry, a registered nurse.

"When you have dogs and you're stuck in the hospital for a few days and you miss your animals they really make your day and make you forget about where you are for a little bit," said Rivera.

And for me, they made me forget I was working and needing to make my deadline.