Copiah Animal Shelter offers puppy therapy to UMMC staff


JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – In partnership with University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC), the Copiah Animal Shelter provided puppy therapy on Friday to COVID-19 staffers.

The state’s healthcare system has been overwhelmed with COVID patients due to the surge cases caused by the Delta variant.

“It’s hard for non-medical staff to understand what these frontline workers are going through. We’re at capacity. We’re running out of beds, and we’ve been doing this for 18 months,” said Hillary Basden, UMMC Office of Patient Experience program manager.

More younger people have been hospitalized in recent weeks, putting a strain on frontline workers, including nurses.

“They’re terrified for their patients. They don’t know how to really comfort them. They’re dealing with people their own age, and it’s really really scary to see someone who is fit, active, has a family that they’re chasing every day getting really really sick,” stated Hailey Williams, a COVID nurse.

To help relieve some of the street, the Copiah Animal Shelter brought a litter of puppies to UMMC. Lauri Williams, who is a volunteer at the shelter, said she got the idea of seeing what her daughter, who is a nurse, goes through in the hospital.

“I said if anybody needs some puppy therapy, it’s the COVID staff. So, I made some calls to some local hospitals to see if anybody would want us to bring some puppies. Puppy breath makes most things better,” she said.

UMMC has a therapy dog program, but it was paused because of the pandemic. Some of the nurses were overjoyed when they found out about Friday’s event.

“This is the best day ever. This is the best day that we’ve had in a really really long time. The puppies just brighten everyone’s day,” said Basden.

“I definitely think that it helps. A lot of the nurses, they’re worn thin, and they need something to make the day better,” said Williams.

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