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Wellmont co-workers, therapy dogs support Women’s Heart Health

Staff Report • Feb 6, 2014 at 11:21 AM

KINGSPORT— Awareness is key in the fight against heart disease, and on Friday, Feb. 7, some nontraditional caregivers will help spread the message at Holston Valley Medical Center.

At 1 p.m., four-legged participants in the hospital’s pet therapy group will be attired in red leashes, collars, sweaters and bows as they visit cardiac patients. This activity will reinforce Wellmont Health System’s commitment to women’s heart health on a day this topic is celebrated nationally.

“For fun, we usually dress up the dogs for Halloween, Christmas and other holidays, but this is the first time we’ve been able to use their costumes and accessories for a health cause,” said Karen Fox, Holston Valley’s manager of volunteer services.

“Hopefully, when people see these furry friends trotting around the hospital in red, they’ll get their hearts checked and recognize the value of monitoring their health.”

Other Wellmont co-workers, including physicians with the Wellmont CVA Heart Institute, will also wear red that day. The event is part of the heart institute’s Live Red for Your Heart movement, a partnership with WCYB-TV to raise awareness heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women.

Pet therapy volunteers will meet in the hospital’s main lobby before proceeding to the second-floor cardiac unit. There, patients and visitors can relax by petting and speaking to the dogs.

Holston Valley maintains a roster of two dozen therapy dogs who visit patients several times a week. All the dogs have undergone special training and certification through Therapy Dogs International before they can enter the hospital. Their handlers are also registered as hospital volunteers.

For more information about Live Red, please visit www.wellmont.org/myHeart More information about Holston Valley’s volunteer program is available by calling Fox at (423) 224-6041.

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