Former hospital patient starts her own pet therapy non-profit in Summerville

VIDEO: Former hospital patient starts her own pet therapy non-profit in Summerville

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - It is National Volunteer Week and Summerville Medical Center is praising one of its volunteers who is paying it forward after she spent time as a hospital patient.

Lisa Schiller has Newfoundland therapy dogs named Chewie and Abraham and has been volunteering at the hospital for about three years. Schiller’s experience with therapy dogs began when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor five years ago. The tumor was pressing on her brain stem and she was told she needed emergency surgery. She was also told she may not have long to live. When a therapy dog visited her in the hospital, it brought her peace.

“They were the few moments when I wasn’t afraid of what was coming next,” Schiller said. “So I made a promise to the big guy upstairs that if I survived, I would have a therapy dog and pay it forward.”

After her successful surgery, she co-founded her own non-profit and become a pet therapy volunteer at Summerville Medical Center. The dogs also work with veterans and first responders.

“Our first responders, our essential heroes, our doctors and nurses, they pour compassion into the people they service and take care of and they need someone and something to give them some compassion back. So the dogs do that,” Schiller added.

Volunteers were welcomed back inside the hospital in March after COVID-19 temporary halted the program. In a typical year, the hospital has more than 130 volunteers who contribute more than 25,000 hours of volunteer service.

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