How many times have you wanted to take a break during your shift to relax, thinking about how nice it would be to get a massage to help take away some of the stress that comes along with working in the medical field? Well, at St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver, there’s a unique program specifically designed to help make the hospital experience more stress-free for both the patients and those who care for the patients.
In association with the Office of Mission and Ministry and Integrated Healing Services at St. Anthony, the Renewal of Body and Soul program offers services for patients and their families – such as therapeutic massage, aromatherapy and music therapy as well as many other services – to assist in the patient’s preparation for surgery as well as the healing process.
The services offered have been documented through research to assist people with their comfort levels and, according to those involved, has become evident in the services offered and accepted each day.
The Renewal of Body and Soul program is, in essence, an umbrella program that is geared towards the creation of a total healing environment, including the way those involved work together to provide top care for patients. And although the program is still in its beginning stages, it already has seen some positive results.
In addition to the Renewal of Body and Soul program at St. Anthony Central, there also is the same program at St. Anthony North’s intensive care unit and progressive care units.
The services are endorsed by physicians, as the Renewal of Body and Soul program works to complement traditional treatments for patients. "We as physicians can fix the body, but we can’t fix the soul – this is needed," said orthopedic surgeon Bharat M. Desai, M.D.
Through a close review of the past successes the Integrative Healing Services had had since its inception in 1999, there was a movement to develop ways in which these services might be offered to bring even more benefits to the nursing care units. With this goal in mind, Integrative Healing Services, along with the human resources department, focused on creating a "model healing environment" within the hospital that focused solely on the well-being of patients, their families and the entire staff.
To do this and do it right, those involved knew they would have to have full cooperation from everyone from housekeeping to clinical staff. When the idea was presented, the interest was high, with many clinical managers eagerly requesting their unit be chosen for the first project. Ultimately, it was the orthopedics unit at St. Anthony’s Central, under the leadership of clinical manager Kim Jefferson, that was chosen as the first unit.
The program slowly began a steady transformation with massage therapists visiting the floor for several hours throughout the day and evening to offer massage therapy to both patients and staff, and music therapists visited patients and families on weekday afternoons. As all the pieces started to fall into place, staff began using aromatherapy kits to help with headaches, muscle soreness, relaxation and energizing.
In only the approximately one year the Renewal of Body and Soul program has been up and running, there have been significantly positive responses. According to Tracy Jose, the project coordinator for the Integrative Healing Services, the program has helped decrease staff turnover on the orthopedic unit by 18 percent. It also increased the overall patient satisfaction from 67 percent to 90 percent.
Integrated Healing Services, which provides therapists for the program and helps with its development, consists of 11 part-time staff and reaches more than 5,000 people a year throughout the hospital. The Renewal of Body and Soul program on the orthopedic unit specifically is comprised of four part-time therapists and 50 other staff.
"We see our work as a direct expression of our mission – to care for people in the healing manner that Christ would have," Jose said. "We do not charge patients or their families for the services they receive while they are here. And we do not charge staff – we offer this service to support them and their well-being as they care for those who are ill or hurting that come to us."
According to Jose, St. Anthony’s is the only hospital in Colorado she knows of that is running a program like this – possibly in the country. "Our program is very mission focused," she said. "We direct our attention to people here in the hospital during their stay – we want them to know they’re not just a physical injury or illness to us. We are treating them for who they are: a whole person with emotional and spiritual needs as well as the need for physical care while they are here."
The way things have gone thus far, there has been great success, and the program will continue to grow, Jose said. "We plan to grow this program on the orthopedic unit – to have it become second nature as to the way the unit operates," she said. We’d like to see the benefits of this type of approach move into other units as well.
"Wouldn’t it be something if every nurse and caretaker – no matter what shift – could call upon these services for patients they saw in need as well as for themselves when they needed a boost of care? Imagine what health care would be like then."