Complementary Care Adds a Touch of Fun

May 28, 2013
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Sometimes, giving care doesn’t mean taking a temperature or ordering blood work. Iyna Adams, a subacute team leader at Northwest Hospital, saw this firsthand when she brought her Labrador retriever, Charlie, over to see a man who’d had a stroke. As the man began petting Charlie, he started crying. “I have a dog, too,” he told Iyna. Having Charlie on hand helped the hospital feel more like home.

Sometimes, giving care doesn’t mean taking a temperature or ordering blood work. Iyna Adams, a subacute team leader at Northwest Hospital, saw this firsthand when she brought her Labrador retriever, Charlie, over to see a man who’d had a stroke. As the man began petting Charlie, he started crying. “I have a dog, too,” he told Iyna. Having Charlie on hand helped the hospital feel more like home.

“Charlie always looks happy and loves being around people; people talk about him, and they recall their own pets,” Iyna says. Charlie, who has been certified as an animal assistance therapy dog, accompanies her during her shorter shifts. He’s been coming to work with his mom for about a year now, and even sports his own LBH-issued name tag.

It’s no secret that we offer top-notch technologies and a highly trained staff of compassionate professionals; we’re also committed to creativity. “Nobody likes being in the hospital,” says Ann Ludwig, education/PI coordinator, Respiratory Care Services at LifeBridge Health. “We try to offer solutions that are uplifting.” Ann, along with her colleague Pat Moloney-Harmon, advance practice nurse in Children’s Services, has been championing harmonica therapy – which is exactly what it sounds like. Kids with asthma, pneumonia and postoperative conditions learn to control their breathing.complementary care

Pat and Ann’s muse is Buddy Wakefield, the father of Assistant VP for Perioperative Services Jerry Henderson, and an accomplished harmonica player who has graced the stage of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. “It’s a sequence of inhales and exhales,” Ann explains. Patients start with shorter songs and build up stamina through repetition.

Ann recalls two children in the PICU who would greet her with a tune every time she came into the room. Kids can practice anywhere: on the school bus, on the playground or (to Mom and Dad’s chagrin) in the grocery checkout line.

“If nothing else,” Pat says, “the fact that kids are having fun makes it worth it.”

An open heart and a sense of adventure are important for healing, whether you’re the patient or provider. At Levindale, Nance Boozer shares Reiki with residents and staffers alike. “I love the people at Levindale; they’ve been very open and accepting. I’ve seen such wonderful things happen there,” Nance says. She’s quick to add that Reiki “isn’t an ‘alternative’ therapy. It goes with the treatment that’s already in place.”

Complementary care is like the chocolate cookie at the corner of your steak and potato-laden plate; it’s a touch of fun. At Levindale, aromatherapist Jean Fink offers an exotic array of smells that soothes the soul and awakens the mind. Each aroma, she explains, meets a unique need: Ginger and peppermint revive appetite, while lavender alleviates headaches. Jean, who has been certified through the Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy, uses scents that conjure fond memories. She used rose oils to help one resident return to afternoons in her garden.

LifeBridge Health employees are no strangers to “outside the box.” Whether they’re gifting patients with a four-legged friend or the sound of music, they relish the chance to bring a little levity to the people they care for. Ann Ludwig has this gentle reminder for anyone who would dismiss stopping to smell the roses as a “real” treatment: “Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it.”

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