Saint Joseph Health System tapping into the power of ‘paw-sitivity’ for its employees

Updated: Mar. 23, 2023 at 6:25 PM EDT
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MISHAWAKA, Ind. (WNDU) - What’s good in Michiana? Well, who could argue with puppies?

Thursday is National Puppy Day, and man’s best friend is clocking in at the Saint Joseph Mishawaka Medical Center for a very special job.

16 News Now stopped by to learn how they’re making a difference for their full-time colleagues.

We’re in a clinical setting so let’s stick to the facts. A UK study from 2019 showed that just watching a video of dogs can go a long way in decreasing someone’s stress and anxiety. Hanging out with them in person can be even better.

To celebrate the hard-working staff here, and of course National Puppy Day, Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center is putting that conclusion to the test.

Working at a hospital can be ‘ruff’.

“It doesn’t matter what role you play here at the hospital. There is a level of stress with any position that you have.”

That’s why these furry friends are stopping by to bring some much-needed ‘paw-sitivity’ to hospital employees.

“We really come out with a lot of endorphins when we’re really happy and when we see little cute things, whether it’s babies, animals, or whoever. So, by providing little outlets like this for dogs or cats to be here to get that love, our people here can get those endorphins and excitement for the rest of their work shift too,” said SJHS Take Care Coordinator Dakota Hartz.

One employee told us just how much of a difference this brief ‘paws’ makes in her day.

“It’s almost like you come through the door and your mind is so cluttered with everything, and when you leave you’re like, ‘gosh that was awesome.’ It’s like a brain massage,” said SJRMC Clinical Education Director Linda Zeese.

I think it’s safe to say that she’s happy the ‘dog-tor’ is in.

These dogs have no problem lending a paw to those who need a quick pick me up, but the truth is that these dogs appreciate the connection with humans too.

“It makes such a huge difference in bringing that stress level down to something more manageable and you feel that little bit of joy. I don’t have to think about numbers. I don’t have to think about quality. I don’t have to think about scheduling. I come here and it’s just about me and the dogs,” Zeese said.

Follow any of these links for reliable studies and articles that show how interactions with dogs can impact your mood and stress levels: