For more than a year, Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse, Wis. has sponsored a Caring Hands service, in which trained volunteers provide light, 15-minute hand massages to patients. It's part of a healing enhancement program designed to reduce stress and anxiety.
The program has been a resounding success. "It's been extremely well received by patients, volunteers and the staff," says Judy Aufenthie, a Mayo Clinic Health System life coach who initiated the program after seeing its success at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. "It's so meaningful to the patients, and the volunteers feel like they can really get to the heart of caring for the patient. They can see the difference they're making for patients."
In a year, the program has grown to more than 80 trained volunteers. Hand massage is now available on two floors of the hospital and in the Cancer Center in La Crosse, and in the Outpatient Dialysis Unit in Onalaska, Wis. The program is still expanding with plans to make hand massage available to even more patients in the La Crosse area.