Michelle Hammer and her Collie Lucky have volunteered with Mercy Medical Center’s Pet Patrol program since January 2009
One late November day, Michelle received a call that a patient on the ninth floor requested a visit. When she entered the patient’s room, she recognized a woman she had previously visited at the hospital on another floor.
Mercy Medical Center patient Gertrude Minor hugged Lucky and shed tears during their visit. She said she was going to an area rehabilitation center and asked if Michelle would come visit. During their first visit in rehab, Michelle told Gertrude she would visit her every day she was a patient at the center. This led to a nearly three-month commitment and lasting friendship between Michelle and the patient and her family.
From early December 2010 to mid-February 2011, Michelle and Lucky visited Gertrude. “I think I may have missed two days,” Michelle says. “I made a commitment to Gerti on that day, and I was going to honor it.” On Christmas day, New Year’s Day and Michelle's birthday, the Mercy Medical Center Pet Patrol team visited. “Lucky knew exactly where to go within the building to get to Gerti’s room,” Michelle says.
What happened during their time spent together is even more remarkable. A lasting friendship blossomed not only between Michelle and Gertrude but also between Michelle and Gertrude’s daughter Maryann. Since Gertrude left the center, Michelle continues to stay connected with the family. She has visited Gertrude at her home, attended her 88th birthday celebration and was even invited to her granddaughter’s house-warming party. When Maryann’s husband underwent open-heart surgery at Mercy and subsequently visited the hospital for therapy, Michelle–and of course Lucky–met Maryann every week at the hospital for coffee during his therapy session.
“They are the most positive, giving and special people,” Michelle says about Gertrude and her family. Lucky agrees. Michelle says Lucky went to her front door at 5:30 p.m. every day for nearly two weeks after Gertrude was discharged from the center.
Gertrude keeps Lucky’s framed pictured on a table next to her favorite chair in the living room. “I think this is what Mercy Pet Patrol is all about,” Michelle says. “It’s about the relationships built between people and these special dogs. It’s amazing what Lucky can do.”
Interested in becoming a volunteer with Mercy Pet Patrol?
Mercy Pet Patrol teams provide a sense of comfort for patients during hospitalization, promote self-esteem through unconditional love, and provide an outlet for anxiety, stress and depression. For more information about Mercy Pet Patrol, please call 330-489-1182 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org