LONG BRANCH, NJ - On Thursday, March 1, Paws for Patients, the hospice canine therapy program offered to patients of the Barnabas Health Hospice and Palliative Care Center, will host the first in a four-session training program. The program, designed for dog owners interested in volunteering to visit hospice patients and families with their dog(s), seeks volunteers to visit patients in Monmouth County.

In order to participate in the “Paws” program, a dog owner must complete the four-session training program and his/her dog(s) must complete and pass a therapy dog qualification administered by a recognized pet therapy organization. Each volunteer team will be assigned to patients who live in close proximity to the volunteer’s town of residence. 

The training program, which will be held in Long Branch, is designed to give new volunteers insight into the needs and challenges of patients and families who are coping with advanced illness. Among the topics covered are an overview of hospice care, listening skills and bereavement issues.  

The training program will be offered as follows:

  • Beginning Thursday, March 1, from 6:30 – 9:00 p.m.

Monmouth Medical Center, Long Branch

Programs to be held on 3/1, 3/6, 3/13 and 3/22

Established in 1981, Barnabas Health Hospice and Palliative Care Center provides comprehensive physical, emotional and spiritual care and support services for patients with advanced illness and their families throughout ten counties in the State of New Jersey. The program, which serves infants, children, adults and the elderly, honors the unique choices and values of patients and their families while offering full access to the broad array of services provided by Barnabas Health.

“The therapeutic use of dogs in health care settings has been proven to help orient patients, especially those with dementia, to the present moment,” explains Lorraine Sciara, FACHE, Executive Director, Barnabas Health Hospice and Palliative Care Center.  “Dogs increase relaxation, reduce feelings of isolation and even lower blood pressure in patients. We are pleased to be able to offer this wonderful new program to our patients and families.”

To register or for more information, please contact Laurie Berkman, Paws for Patients Program Coordinator, at 973-322-4800 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.