Desert Regional Medical Center’s Chief Nursing Officer, Mary Anne McCrea knows that nurses can be the best at taking care of others, but often the worst at taking time to care for themselves. Her staff of over 800 work twelve hour shifts and often don’t stop to nourish their own bodies.
So when integrative practitioner Pamela Potenzo, RN, BSN, HNB-BC, CHTP approached her offering complimentary healing touch sessions to her staff, McCrea didn’t hesitate.
Healing Touch is categorized by the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine as an energy medicine, or biofield therapy. The goal of biofield therapy is to manipulate through touch the subtle energy fields that surround the human body. Although clinical studies are limited, the therapies are being used more often in clinical settings as a complement to standard medical care in order to reduce stress, increase relaxation and promote physical, mental and emotional well-being among patients.
Potenzo visits the hospital once a month offering 15-20 sessions to those in need. Nurses take part during work hours, and the service is promoted through their employee newsletter and leadership staff. “We are encouraging our staff to take care of themselves and want them to view this as part of their healing environment,” says McCrea. Those who have taken advantage of the therapy are thrilled with the results. “I finally feel relaxed when I leave here,” said Deb who has used the therapy several times. “And it’s just about the only time that I do.”
The healing touch therapy is part of a larger effort to improve the environment in support of patient care and nurturing the nurse-patient relationship. “We also make sure our nurse lounges offer healing environments, and that ergonomic chairs are always available for computer charting,” says McCrea. “On extremely busy days, we will often have food delivered to ensure our nurses take the time to eat.”
Similar comforts are created for patients as well, strengthening that nurse-patient bond. Whenever a baby is born, lullabies are played throughout the hospital through a button pushed by the new Dad, and the delicious aroma of fresh baked cookies fills the air in the OB/Postpartum unit daily. Nurses deliver the cookies and milk to new mothers and their guests each afternoon.
“It is important that our nurses are happy in their work environment and in their patient care relationships,” says McCrea. “Taking time to nurture themselves during their busy work day is essential, and we are grateful for Pam’s contribution of healing touch.”
For more information on healing touch, visit www.healingtouchinternational.org. Desert Regional Medical Center can be reached at (760) 323.6511. Pamela Potenzo can be reached at (760) 296.2767.