Seniors at the A. Holly Patterson facility in Uniondale receive new friend


Seniors at the A. Holly Patterson Extended Care Facility in Uniondale — an extension of Nassau University Medical Center — received a new furry friend on Jan. 13.

Except these pets don’t need to be fed, walked, or cleaned up after.

The New York State Department of Aging donated animatronic dogs and cats to the facility. County Exec. Bruce Blakeman gave them out on Friday.

“This is something that’s very unique,” Blakeman said. “These animatronic pets that behave like a live animal.

“It’s really an ingenious invention.”

The Patterson facility has over 550 beds in its building on Jerusalem Avenue. Along with senior services, the facility also offers post-hospital care including sub-acute rehabilitation, long-term rehabilitation, wound care, I.V therapy, dementia services and more.

“The nice thing about it is that here in a facility like this, where we really can’t have live animals, from the department of health perspective, this is a great substitute,” Blakeman said. “The people who are living here at the A. Holly Patterson center, they’re going to enjoy this, they’re going to have fun, they’re going to play with it, it’s going to help them with communication skills, it’s going to make them more comfortable.”

The dog, which looks like a Golden Retriever puppy, has puppy-like movement and sounds. The dog barks back when someone says something to it.

The cat, which has the features of a grey tabby cat, purrs like a real cat, along with making very realistic sounds. It open and closes its eyes, lifts its paw, opens its mouth and can even move and roll over. The pets even respond to touch.

“A. Holly Patterson serves a large community who are underprivileged,” Dr. Javida Rizvon, the medical director of the facility said, “And we are really very appreciative of this offer from the Office of Aging and our leadership, Mr. Blakeman.”

The animatronic pets are a great addition to the care of the facility residents who have gone through a lot of stressful situations because of the pandemic, added Dr. Rizvon.

She also mentioned that before the pandemic the facility used to offer live pet-therapy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, studies have shown that bonds formed between people and their pets has several health benefits. Decreased blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and symptoms of PTSD, along with better cognitive function in older adults, and more opportunities to socialize are all benefits listed on the site.

“It’s a great thing for these senior citizens that are here and the other people that are here for rehabilitation,” Blakeman said. “That they get something that will cheer them up and make a smile come to their face.”