OhioHealth offers patients comfort and companionship through furry visitor

Wesley, a facility dog at OhioHealth's Riverside Methodist Hospital
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14,000 Capital City half, quarter and 5k participants are helping people they've never met.

The OhioHealth Capital City Half Marathon supports several location charities, including the OhioHealth Foundation.

The OhioHealth Foundation helps raise funds for the facility dog program. Wesley, an australian labradoodle, is Riverside Methodist's first and only facility dog.

He's been offering patients therapy, comfort and companionship for eight months.

"What a good boy," patient Marjory Wylie said. She was recently in the hospital to mend from a broken pelvis. Welsey snuggled right in on her feet.

Wesley's dose of furry medicine is in high demand. He works five days a week and takes appointments.

He not only visits with patients, but gets plenty of love from the OhioHealth staff. He even makes appearances at the beginning of department meetings in the afternoon.

"Quite often we have to say sorry he's booked today!" Carol Conner is the director of volunteer services at Riverside Methodist Hospital. She came up with the idea of having a facility dog at Riverside Methodist.

"I had seen how the pet therapy teams that visit the hospital helped the patients. Patients just wanted more and more visits," Conner said.

Six months after Conner proposed a therapy dog program, Wesley began his full time job up and down the halls of the hospital.

"He has just been a wonderful addition. The patients love him. The smile he puts on patients' faces is wonderful."

The benefits are not just on patients' faces, but also in their medical charts.

"It seems to put people at ease. It lowers their blood pressure," Conner said. "He's like a rock star walking down the hallways."

Patient Stephanie Marks shed a tear as she spent time with Wesley.

"I'm thrilled. I'm absolutely thrilled. How many people can say that Wesley visited them?" Marks said. "Thank you for bringing him...really appreciate it. Wesley you are a wonderful dog, wonderful wonderful dog."

OhioHealth plans to add more facility dogs like Wesley through the help of the OhioHealth Foundation.

You can donate by clicking here.

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