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Pet Therapy Program Begins at Ukiah Valley Medical Center

News Ukiah, CA - Ukiah Valley Medical Center (UVMC) is excited to announce that their new Pet Therapy Program started on September 21, 2016. This service was designed to bring smiles and joy to patients, staff and visitors, and to promote the potential healing powers that pets can have on all of us. The program was inspired by the Planetree philosophy of focusing on patient-centered care in healthcare environments. Planetree encourages a healing physical environment, aroma therapy, massage therapy, pet therapy, and other healing and patient-centered care practices.

The Pet Therapy Program at Ukiah Valley Medical Center was developed by Paulette Dancause-Paulsen, PharmD, a clinical pharmacist at UVMC. She and her husband, Rich Paulsen, have been certified therapy dog handlers with Therapy Dogs International for over six years, and find it very rewarding and a healing process for themselves and others. “Rich and I enjoy this work because it brings joy and smiles to others and helps to reduce the stress of being in the hospital”’ stated Paulette Dancause-Paulsen.
Paulette worked with the UVMC Planetree Complimentary Therapies team in conjunction with the hospital’s Infection Prevention department to provide certified therapy dog teams to visit weekly in the hospital’s conference room, where patients, staff and visitors can enjoy a loving visit with a therapy dog. By request of the patient’s physician or nurse, a visit in the patient’s room can also be arranged if specific infection prevention criteria are met. Hand and pet hygiene are an integral part of the visits both before and after interacting with therapy dogs.

Opening day was fun for all who experienced their visit with Miss Holly, a seven year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Hailey, a six year old Golden Retriever with her handler, Linda Tea, Echocardiography Supervisor at UVMC and Skye, a 2 year old Golden Retriever with handler Lisa Petersen, a Surgical RN at UVMC. 
Ukiah Valley Medical Center’s Volunteer Coordinator, Felicia Eriksen, is delighted to coordinate the program which has brought much joy and many smiles all around the hospital. Volunteers help the dog handlers at each visit by providing hand sanitizer, assisting the patient, and recording reactions and comments by patients. The volunteer also fills out a health check of the therapy dog before each days visit. 
UVMC is interested in volunteers and certified therapy dog teams to expand its program in the coming year. Contact Felicia Eriksen if you would like to be a hospital volunteer for this program at 707.463.7690 or email

Photo Caption: People from left to right: Sue Passalaqua, Planetree Coordinator; Linda Tea, Complimentary Therapies Manager/Echocardiology Manager; Felicia Eriksen, Volunteer Manager; Paulette Dancause-Paulsen, Therapy Dog Director/Clinical Pharmacist; Richard Paulsen, Therapy Dog Handler and Lisa Peterson, RN.
Therapy Dogs from left to right: Hailey, Miss Holly and Skye.

--  UVMC  --
Ukiah Valley Medical Center is part of Adventist Health, a faith-based, nonprofit integrated health system serving more than 75 communities in California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington. Our workforce of 32,700 includes more than 23,400 employees; nearly 5,000 medical staff physicians; and 4,300 volunteers. Founded on Seventh-day Adventist heritage and values, Adventist Health provides compassionate care in 19 hospitals, more than 260 clinics (hospital-based, rural health and physician clinics), 15 home care agencies, seven hospice agencies and four joint-venture retirement centers. In addition, the Adventist Health Plan serves patients in Kings County. Adventist Health ranked #10 in Becker's list of the largest nonprofit hospital systems in the U.S. for 2015. Visit for more information.