Coleen Naylor, a wholistic health nurse at Lourdes Hospital in Camden, NJ has been buying so many copies of our Relaxation CD, for so many years, I decided it was high time to find out why. So I arranged to visit her and this blog and the video that accompanies it is the story of our visit there.
It turns out that the hospital uses our Relaxation CD in many different ways. Originally, it was used in cardiac rehab for patients who needed help managing their stress. Now it's used in childbirth classes. It's used in the neonatal unit to calm new parents who need to be relaxed when holding their tiny newborns. It's used in the School of Nursing to introduce relaxation techniques to all the new nursing students. And it's used by employees who have stress-related health concerns, such as high blood pressure. As Coleen likes to point out, "how the staff feels affects how the patients feel, so I encourage them to use the CD, too"
But the main reason Coleen buys so many CDs is for a special surgery prep program at the hospital that aims to make coming to the hospital a more pleasant experience for the patient. Coleen invites patients who are scheduled for surgery to come in for a one hour program on what to expect during their visit. She tells people: How to prepare their homes before they leave, what to expect while at the hospital and what to expect when they return home.
Coleen also teaches incoming patients various mind-body relaxation techniques to help them cope with the stress of going in for an operation. After surgery, each patient is given a CD player with a copy of THE RELAXATION CD already in it. They can play it any time they are feeling anxious and, by all reports, it seems to help relieve post-surgical discomfort. They are encouraged to use it, even if they don't feel tense, and as a result, patients report that it helps them sleep better and it helps cut down the noise at night.
"How did you first start using The Relaxation CD?" I asked her in the videotaped interview you can see here. She explained that Lourdes was using our product "The Relaxation Channel" (a six hour relaxation video) over their CC-TV system. "I could see how many people were helped by watching this video, so I wanted to see if the same would hold true for the CD. And it did. In a small research study involving open heart surgery patients, those who attended the pre-op class and listened to The Relaxation CD went home 2.5 days earlier with fewer complications and more positive affect than the control group."
Stanton Miller, M.D. and General Surgeon at Lourdes thinks the pre-surgery program is a real benefit to the hospital. "These programs are wonderful. One hundred percent of patients about to have surgery are anxious, whether they admit it or not. Surgery is one of those scary lifetime events and to have any kind of program that helps people relax is just a wonderful resource for the institution to have."
"They really like the CD and they like Dr. Stuart McCalley's voice (the narrator)," adds Coleen, "patients say it's very calming. And it helps people focus on what they're supposed to do. If you were to say to someone, 'meditate,' it's hard to quiet your mind. But being guided by the CD is much easier."
"I felt the class was an integral part of the healing process," comments a patient who went through the program. "There's a lot of stress building up to the surgery and you use the relaxation techniques to bring you back down again." Douglas Leonard, M.D., a psychiatrist at Lourdes says the program makes his job easier: "I see a lot of people with depression and anxiety, and coming to the hospital is not exactly a relaxing endeavor so anything we can do to help the patients relax is incredibly important in helping the patient get through the hospital stay. Tensing up and getting tight worsens a lot of the medical problems we have to deal with so this program is a very vital adjunct to what we do here at the hospital."
When asked about advising other hospitals who want to start a similar program, Coleen was very enthusiastic. "It's not only that the patients feel better coming into the hospital and feel more secure, they're actually much easier to take care of, because, if they know what to do to help themselves feel better, they don't need as much assistance from the nurses." If you'd like to know more about this unique program you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will forward your letters directly to Coleen.
Check out the video blog here.
The WELCOA conference is suggesting that wellness programs move in a new direction. In my mind no one addressed this point better than Jim Purcell, formerly of Rhode Island Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the founder of the Returns on Wellbeing Institute. He says you have to change the culture from the top down. "No matter how good the program is it will fail in a toxic culture. The key to happiness in the workplace boils down to two simple elements. Having work that you love to do in a place where you love to do it."