SSM Health Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation Unveils 'Compassion Unleashed'
The Program Is a Mix of Therapies, Primarily Focused on Music, Pet and Art Therapy
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      SSM Health Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation has unveiled a new program "Compassion Unleashed".

      The program is a mix of interesting therapies, primarily focused on music, pet and art therapy. All are designed to aid in the healing of the mind, body, and soul.

      Among the 75 on hand at the ceremony at Good Samaritan Hospital in Mt. Vernon, this week were eight pet teams. The therapy dogs were well mannered and enjoyed many pats and hugs. They ranged in size from one which was small enough to be easily carried, to one which is still growing at 145 pounds. There was an interactive art project for participants that will be later combined into a unique piece of art. Piano music played prior to and after the official ceremony.

      Administrative Director of Fund Development Shawna Bullard, says Compassion Unleashed was a dream, as a seed of hope planted by compassionate minds. The stars of Compassion Unleashed are pet teams, artists, and musicians. They are catalysts of hope that add presence, love, and kindness to the word "hospital".

      She noted the programs are not just touchy-feely. They are backed by clinical research. Bullard says they are proven to be effective in reducing anxiety, in reducing nausea in patients undergoing chemotherapy. They improve cognitive skills and provide intellectual stimulation for geriatric patients and patients with memory loss. Bullard says visits from pets are proven to lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health. She notes compassion Unleashed brings smiles, and comfort, and eases loneliness, but they also provide hope, and healing, at its most basic level.

      Kerry Swanson, Illinois' Regional President of SSM Health, expressed her thanks to attendees and the teams. She announced and gave special thanks given to Bill and Barbara Beck, for their generous donation of $100,000 to the Music Therapy Program.

      Jeff Stewart, Director of Pastoral Care, dedicated Compassion Unleashed and offered a blessing of the pet therapy teams.

      The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce cut a ribbon to help officially launch Compassion Unleashed.

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