By Stephanie Stahl

By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The front lines of medicine are filled with stress.  Now pets are helping the medical staff at one Philadelphia hospital relax a little.  3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl shows you.

An overflow crowd for  “Pet A Pooch” at The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Doctors, nurses, administrative staff, even the MedStar crew drop by for a quick visit.  It’s fun with a serious purpose.

“Animals have been shown in multiple studies to relieve blood pressure to reduce people anxiety levels to just have an overall calming effect, and it lifts your spirits,” said Heather Matthew, who created the program, deals with drama all the time in the emergency department.

“Health care workers face stress dealing with patients that are dying every day people that you know you want to help but sometimes you just can’t.  It’s beyond your power,” said Heather.

That’s one of many stressors health care workers face.  Others include work overload, irregular hours, exposure to infections substances, and high performance expectations.

Stahl asked Marion Leary, a nurse in the emergency department, “How does this help your day, holding these dogs?”

Marion replied, “Oh my God it’s amazing.  Ya know we all do a lot of stressful work, and we see some things that are a little hard to deal with sometimes.”

The SPCA provides the animals for the “Pet A Pooch” program.  They’re all available for adoption.  And now, cats and kittens are being added to the program.  Four legged friends sharing a little love with the lifesavers.

For more information, visit the links below:

Pennsylvania SPCA-

Penn Medicine-

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