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Patients at LRH Receive Alternative Therapies

February 28, 2012

Patients at Littleton Regional Hospital are now offered alternative therapies including Reiki, hand and foot massages, Aromatherapy, and therapeutic music for healing. "This is just an introduction of a new volunteer program that provides alternative therapies for patients at no cost." stated Charron Sundman, Volunteer Services Director at LRH.

Sundman states, "According to the American Hospital Association at least forty two percent of all hospitals offer at least one type of complementary or alternative therapies for patients. LRH is fortunate to have licensed practitioners who are willing to donate their time to provide these services to our patients. Feedback from the patients has been very positive as these treatments not only provide relaxation but in some cases help reduce pain."

Gail Minor-Babin, RN, MEd, Health Science Technologies Teacher at the Hugh J. Gallen Regional Career &Technical Center at Littleton High School recently learned how to play the harp, a beautiful instrument that provides healing and transition for patients. Healthcare professionals agree that one half hour of music can produce the same effect as ten milligrams of valium. Research proves that music therapy can reduce blood pressure, stabilize the heart rate, decrease muscular tension, boost the immune system, and foster a sense of safety and well-being. Babin volunteers one hour each month at LRH providing soothing music for patients.

In addition to music therapy, Babin is a licensed Reiki practitioner providing treatment to patients at LRH on a volunteer basis. Reiki is a Japanese word meaning universal life force and "healing" means restoring harmony to mind, body and spirit. By using gentle touch or moving hands just above your body, the energy in your body will become balanced and create healing. Reiki can induce sleep, promote relaxation, relieve stress and improve the healing process.

Grace Bigelow, RN and licensed aromatherapy practitioner provides aromatherapy to patients at LRH. Bigelow will spend time with patients interested in aromatherapy offering a choice of scented and unscented oils. The oils are lightly massaged on the face, temples, shoulders and neck. The massage stimulates the body's immune system and helps fight off infections. It can also relieve physical pain and discomfort as well as help manage anxiety and reduce stress.

Shelley McCollum, licensed massage therapist provides hand and foot massage to patients at LRH. Massage therapy has been an important part of alternative medicine for the past 4,000 years. Americans are just beginning to recognize the health benefits of therapeutic hand and foot massage.

Holly Lakey, a volunteer at LRH and a former Hospice Director, coordinates the alternative therapy specialists. Working with LRH's nursing staff, she identifies patients who would benefit from the therapy offered each week and oversees the scheduling of the therapists. She also keeps notes on physical changes including patient's sense of relaxation, deeper and slower breathing, as well as verbal information given by the patient of his/her perception of pain before and after the treatment.

Littleton Regional Hospital is fortunate to have more than 200 adult volunteers providing nearly 20,000 hours of service annually. For information about LRH's Volunteer Services Program or alternative therapy for patients, please contact Charron Sundman at (603) 444-9207.

From left: Gail Minor-Babin, RN, Med; Grace Bigelow, RN; Charron Sundman, Director of Volunteer Services at LRH, and Holly Lakey, LRH volunteer who coordinates the alternative therapy specialists at LRH.

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