LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Norton Hospital is expanding a program bringing comfort to patients during their stay. 

What You Need To Know

  • Norton Hospital recently celebrated “Facility Dog Week”

  • Facility dogs are like therapy dogs with slightly different training requirements

  • Henry is Norton’s first facility dog joining hospital staff 6 years ago

When Henry the Yellow Lab is on the job, he’s there to smooth things over. Henry is a Norton “facility dog,” similar to a therapy dog. Henry has been working full time at Norton Audubon Hospital for six years.

In fact, Henry is the “original,” Norton’s very first facility dog. The program is made possible through the hospital’s “Heal Dog Heal” program, which provides highly trained dogs and handlers to comfort patients and staff.

Henry’s handler is Audubon chaplain Matthew Eddleman. “The understanding of what therapy dogs and facility dogs can do for patients is only growing,” Eddleman tells Spectrum News 1. 

Recently Norton celebrated “Facility Dog Week.”

“So you want him on the bed with you?” Chaplain Eddleman asks patient Tony Garnett.

“If he don’t mind,” Garnett replies.

Garnett has been in the hospital for two weeks and has already met Henry and always appreciates a visit.

“Henry is always welcome…I love him. He just made my day,” Garnett adds.

Six years ago Henry became Norton Healthcare’s first ever facility dog

Six years ago Henry became Norton Healthcare’s first ever facility dog

Henry is obviously popular on every floor of the hospital and is currently one of nine facility dogs on staff. That number is growing in 2022.

“And the demand for our dogs is growing. In fact, on many days we have more requests than our dogs can do, so it’s exciting to see our ‘Heal Dog Heal,’ program growing to meet the need,” Chaplain Eddleman explains.

During this shift, Henry also visited with patient Patricia McCartney. This is McCartney’s first visit to Norton Audubon and the first visit from Henry.

“You’re going to make me cry, Henry! You’re so gorgeous,” McCartney says. “He’s such a good boy.”

Funding for Norton’s “Heal Dog Heal” program is provided by grants through Norton Healthcare and Norton Children’s Foundations.