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March 26, 2012
Sharon Hall has dedicated her professional career to quality healthcare issues. Before joining Parker, Smith & Feek as our Healthcare Risk Management Specialist, she spent her early career as a nurse and then hospital risk manager. Outside of work, Sharon’s passion is animals and she has found a perfect way to meld her interests. Sharon and Sydney, her golden retriever, volunteer with Pet Partners, an organization dedicated to incorporating animal therapy, service, and companionship into people’s lives.
Sharon and Sydney regularly visit with residents of senior assisted-living facilities, including people with Alzheimer’s. They focus on pet visitation and companionship because Sharon knows the incredible range of benefits that people derive from simply spending time with an animal. While studies have confirmed health benefits, such as reduced blood pressure, some of the most important aspects are less tangible. A visit from Sydney can help alleviate loneliness and invoke fond memories of beloved pets for seniors. Animals help stimulate people with mobility issues beyond their everyday limitations—they want to interact with a pet and will find a way to stroke Sydney or even walk her down the hall. According to Sharon, pet visitation can also help people who are socially withdrawn. Interaction with an animal can get a depressed person to speak again and begin the process of re-engaging with people. In the case of Alzheimer’s, pet visits can help patients focus on the ‘now.’ Sydney is well suited to her volunteer work because she is calm, friendly, and happy to meet new people. She and Sharon are a great team and both of them find deep satisfaction in their work together, bringing joy, compassion, and motivation to others.
Pet Partners (formerly the Delta Society) is an international program with over 10,000 teams volunteering in all 50 states and 13 countries. Volunteers visit a wide variety of institutions and pet partners include dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, horses, llamas, and other domesticated animals. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words and this video http://www.firstgiving.com/petpartners illustrates the wonderful effect that our pets can have on others. You can learn more about the Pet Partners program at http://www.deltasociety.org/.
Sharon and Sydney also volunteer for the Humane Society, participating in the visiting pet program for Kids Camp and the Max Mobile Truck that visits schools for Show and Tell. If you see them at local fairs, where they do marketing for Pet Partners, stop by their booth and say hello. Sydney would love to meet you and it will be good for you!