Baptist Health Foundation Hardin welcomes new pet therapy dog

Baptist Health Hardin. November 03, 2023

ELIZABETHTOWN, KY (Nov. 1, 2023) – Today, Baptist Health Foundation Hardin introduced a new therapy dog to the team and patients at Baptist Health Hardin. Penelope, a three-month-old Goldendoodle, will soon begin training to be a certified therapy pet so she can provide comfort to patients, their families and to staff at Baptist Health Hardin.

Penelope joins the ranks of fellow pet therapy dog Jimmy and will be the hospital's second full-time facility dog. Baptist Health Hardin boasts a roster of trained pet therapy dogs, available upon patient request. Penelope will live with Baptist Health Hardin Director of Spiritual Care, Jessica Jasper, and complete rotations with her and the other chaplains. 

The choice of Penelope's name was a collaborative effort involving the Baptist Health Hardin staff, with over 160 recommendations contributed during a contest. Lisa Humphrey, receiving clerk at Baptist Health Hardin, won the contest with the name Penelope. “I just like the name,” Humphrey said. “It just popped into my head.” She was recognized in her staff meeting and awarded a gift card from the Baptist Health Auxiliary Hardin Gift Shop, donuts, and balloons. When asked how she felt about naming the dog, she said she was very surprised, adding that “It was exciting. She’s cute!”

“The number of team members submitting ideas for names during our contest far surpassed our expectations,” Jasper said. “We learned how vital pet therapy is at the hospital when we had to suspend it during the pandemic.  The excitement surrounding Penelope’s arrival proves she will be a popular and important part of our team from day one”.

Animal-assisted therapy is a guided interaction between a person and a trained animal to help patients recover from or better cope with health problems, such as pain, heart disease, cancer, dementia and mental health disorders. Baptist Health Foundation Hardin provided funding in 2019 to help the hospital launch the pet therapy program.

"Research proves animal-assisted therapy can significantly improve patient outcomes and it has been a great success at Baptist Health Hardin so far,” said Dr. Bill Nash, Baptist Health Foundation Hardin board member and pet therapy donor.  “What we did not expect when we helped pay for the launch of the program is how much our physicians, advanced practice clinicians and team members would appreciate and need the comfort these dogs provide.”

Learn more about Baptist Health Hardin’s pet therapy services.