A BELOVED - AND FURRY- HOSPITAL VOLUNTEER SAYS GOODBYE For the past dozen years, a volunteer named Junior made the rounds at University Hospital, comforting the sick, soothing the scared, and lowering stress levels of patients, visitors and staff alike - all without saying a word. Junior, by the way, is a cat - one of a handful of therapy animals that are part of University Health System's Paws Up Pet Therapy program, overseen by the Volunteer Services Department. Early this year, Junior - and his owner, Beverly Oakes - decided it might be time to retire. At 17 years old about 85 people years). Junior was getting frail and had lost an eye to melanoma. But given his impact on staff and patients over all these years, his friends weren't going to let his retirement go unnoticed. They hosted a going-away party for him at University Hospital in April, attended by more than a hundred people - and his therapy animal colleagues. we got a lot of smiles, a lot of comments like I’m a dog person, but I like this cat,"' said Ms. Oakes, who found Junior as a kitten of 12 or 13 weeks of age, abandoned on a farm in the Rio Grande Valley. "I had one little girl tell us he made her headache go away. Which shows how pet therapy) can take your mind off pain." As proof of just how valued a member of the University Health System family Junior has been, in 2014 he was named Volunteer of the Year at the annual Employee Awards Banquet. Ms. Oakes, who also has a pet therapy dog that visits the hospital, said she knew pretty quickly that Junior was special. We were driving in the car one day, my husband and I, and we were having a heated conversation about something or other. Junior reached up and put his paw on my lips. I thought, he's such a sensitive cat." Sadly, Junior passed away in November. "I've had a lot of cats," Ms. Oakes said. "Never had a cat quite like him."
2016 See How We See Annual Report
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