When the Delaware Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association reached out to the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center with an offer to provide volunteer massage therapy to oncology patients and their caregivers, the Mind, Body, & Spirit Wellness program did some massaging of its own to make sure the program succeeded.
“We connected with people in Infection Control, Compensation, and Volunteer Services,” says Susan Guerino, RN, nurse navigator for the Mind, Body, Spirit Wellness Program. “The AMTA chapter found therapists with additional training in oncology massage therapy who wanted to volunteer.” Then Volunteer & Student Services Administration coordinated background checks for proof of licensure, additional training in oncology massage and other details, including proof of tuberculosis screening and influenza vaccine. The process took about six months. The upshot was clearance for seven volunteer massage therapists to begin offering services.
The program began Oct. 24, 2011, and continued through Nov. 11, 2011, performing massages in the Cancer Care Management Department. A total of 55 appointments were scheduled, of which 37 were oncology patients and 17 were caregivers. Massage appointments varied in length from 30 to 45 minutes.
“This was a good collaborative effort that greatly benefited our patients,” said Nicholas Petrelli, M.D., Bank of America endowed medical director of the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center. “Patients overwhelmingly expressed relief in the amount of stress and pain they experienced.”
“We greatly appreciate the generosity of the volunteers not only for their service but for their care and compassion for our patients,” said Cynthia Waddington, RN. “It allowed us to offer a healing modality that our patients are very interested in.”