Volunteer dog brings joy to patients and staff at Goshen Health

October 31, 2017

GOSHEN, Ind. –  It’s hard to ignore the sighting of any animal in a hospital setting. Before you acknowledge or even notice Kathy Schlegelmilch, volunteer at Goshen Health, you’ll most likely be greeted by her four-legged companion, Phoenix.
“After about the second time of coming in to visit, everyone knows Phoenix. They don’t know my name but that’s okay,” Schlegelmilch said. “Phoenix’s job is to take care of the patient, the staff or whoever needs a visit. It’s the joy of knowing you’ve made a difference in someone’s day. They may have a pet at home and they might miss them a lot so we provide that surrogate pet.”  

Schlegelmilch has been a volunteer at Goshen Health for 15 years, and she participates in Pet Partners, which is a professional therapy program that uses animal-assisted interventions.

“I started volunteering with my first golden retriever when I was still working back in 2002. Unfortunately, I was only able to volunteer with her for about two years before she passed away.”  

But the passing of her first retriever didn’t deter Schlegelmilch from volunteering. From that point on, Schlegelmilch knew she wanted to use the power of her pets to help reach patients at Goshen Health.  

“I will always have a golden retriever to volunteer with as long as I am able because I do enjoy this so much. I enjoy seeing the people smile when I come around with Phoenix. Patients may be here for an unpleasant procedure and they need that pick me up.”

Goshen Health has volunteers who provide support to patients and Colleagues in a number of different positions throughout the health system. People who are interested in volunteering should contact Karla Beasley at kbeasley@goshenhealth.com or call (574) 364-2633.