Providence Centralia Hospital is proud to announce the start of a new therapy animal visiting program called Healing Paws.

By Karlyn Fritz

The mission of Healing Paws is to share the unique benefits of the human-animal bond with the patients, visitors and staff of the Providence Health System in Centralia, Washington through animal-assisted activities and animal-assisted therapy.

Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA) are activities designed to improve patients’ quality of life through utilization of the human/animal bond. Animals and their handlers must be screened and trained. Activities may be therapeutic but are not guided by a credentialed therapist.

Wanda and Sophie

Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) utilizes the human/animal bond in goal-directed interventions as an integral part of the treatment process. Working animals and their handlers must be screened, trained and meet certain criteria. A credentialed therapist, working within the scope of practice of his/her profession, sets therapeutic goals, guides the interaction between the patient and animal, measures progress toward meeting therapy goals and evaluates the process. (Definitions taken from Animal-Assisted Therapy: Therapeutic Inventions, Delta Society, 1996).

Our volunteer handlers will visit with their own companion animals, and make regularly scheduled visits at Providence Centralia Hospital (PCH) in the lobby and visitor waiting areas, Out-patient Rehabilitation Unit, Medical units, and to other units by patient/family request or when Healing Paws services are ordered by a physician.

We are seeking mature, responsible, dependable handlers with friendly, social, well-adjusted, well-mannered companion animals who LOVE to meet and interact with people of all ages, sizes and colors to join our program. Our volunteer training will start in January, 2018.

Vicki Salzberg and Benny

The Healing Paws program is funded solely by charitable donations administered by Providence Health Care Foundation. Donations may be sent to:

Providence Health Care Foundation

914 South Scheuber Road

Centralia, WA 98531

(360) 827-7940

You can also donate online here.

(with a note indicating that the gift be directed to the Healing Paws program).

For more information, or if you think this program would be a good fit for you and your companion animal, please contact the Healing Paws Program Coordinator at (360) 827-7913 or