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INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE: HELPING AUGUSTA HEALTH CANCER PATIENTS HEAL WITH COMPLEMENTARY CARE

As part of our commitment to comprehensive cancer care and survivorship services to our patients and their families, Augusta Health Cancer Center recognizes the need to care for the whole person: body, mind and spirit. That’s why the Cancer Center is implementing a Healing Arts Program that is designed to help patients cope with the emotional stress and worry of having and surviving cancer.

Treating and overcoming a serious illness such as cancer requires more than just managing symptoms. It affects the entire person—sense of self, mental health, confidence, faith/spirituality, emotions, ability to do daily activities and relationship with others. Many are unable to express their feeling or cope with the overwhelming burden a cancer diagnosis brings.

Engaging in artistic activities, exploring creative expression, as well as integrative medicine such as massage, meditation and fitness, can have a powerful impact on enhancing the healing process. Exposure to music and participation in art projects during a patient’s medical treatment promotes multiple aspects of wellness and coping. Integrative and Complementary Care focuses on lifestyle changes that also optimize health and well-being. Complementary medical therapies from other healing traditions like yoga, massage therapy and mindfulness/meditation are also offered where sound evidence of effectiveness and safety exist.

Brad Johnson, Director of the Augusta Health Cancer Program, says: “Cancer is not one disease—it’s hundreds of different diseases. Each is unique, and each patient is unique. There is a great deal of stress and anxiety, both about surviving the disease and treatment, and about maintaining day-to-day concerns such as paying the bills while in treatment. We use a ‘Distress Screen’ with our patients to determine their psychosocial stressors and connect them with the programs they need. The screen evaluates the physical (are you sleeping?); the practical (do you need transportation?) and the emotional (what is your anxiety level and how are you coping?).”

He adds:

“When you have cancer, you feel like just about everything in life is outside of your control, and you start searching for a sense of normalcy. You also start to re-prioritize your life and many patients realize that they need to start caring for themselves; diet, exercise, stress reduction. These programs provide healthy ways to deal with stress, and a path to a healthy lifestyle during treatment and when treatment is complete.”

The Healing Arts Program includes programs that have started and are going well, programs that the staff would like to expand, and programs that are still in the future.

Generous gifts to the Augusta Health Foundation have provided for some of the current programming, such as:

  • Musicians in Residence Program - Experienced instrumentalists and student musician volunteers work with patients and family members during treatment to provide soothing sounds and tones. There is some evidence that when used along with conventional treatment, music can help to reduce pain and relieve chemotherapy-induced nausea.
  • Medical Fitness and Movement - Programs includes Cancer Rx and Strength Through Breast Cancer which are 8-10 week guided programs to improve a patient’s functional strength, stamina and flexibility. Yoga uses a combination of postures, rhythmic breathing and meditation, and is said to contribute to physical and mental well-being. Tai Chi uses slow, controlled movements to reduce symptoms and enhance quality of life.
  • Pet Therapy - AH Recreational Therapy department's facilitates certified pet therapy dogs interaction with patients, which can help to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, manage pain, lower blood pressure, and create feelings of being in control.

Current programs that the Cancer Center hopes to expand with additional funding and volunteers:

  • Art and Soul Classes - Patients participate in creative art projects, drumming/musical tones, painting, drawing and mixed-media expression that will relax, inspire and strengthen their artistic spirit and serve as a relaxing, meditative new practice. The drumming/musical tones classes have started, but the painting, drawing and mixed-media expression classes are in need of funding and volunteers to lead them.
  • Massage Therapy - Therapeutic massage involves manipulation, rubbing and kneading of the body's muscle and soft tissue. Some recent studies show massage can decrease stress, anxiety, depression, and pain, and increase alertness. There is also some evidence that massage stimulates nerves, increases blood flow and the supply of oxygen to cells, and helps circulation of the lymph system. Again, funding and volunteers are needed to expand this program.
  • Spirituality and Prayer is generally described as an awareness of something greater than the individual self and is usually expressed through rituals and/or prayer. The psychological benefits of prayer may include reduction of stress and anxiety, promotion of a more positive outlook, and the strengthening of the will to live. Funding would help expand this program.
  • Relaxation, Meditation and Mindfulness teaching is a mind-body process to offer participants tools for finding peace and balance through visualization and using concentration or reflection to relax the body, sooth the spirit and calm the mind. Funding would help expand this program.
  • Writing/Journaling - Open to cancer survivors and the friends and family, the Writing Community provides an opportunity to honor life experiences through writing. Only requires a willingness to write and to support other writers.
  • Energy-field Therapies - Reiki is a form of hands-on treatment used to manipulate energy fields within and around the body while Healing Therapeutic Touch is a relaxing, nurturing, "hands-off" non-invasive energy therapy. Both may assist in balancing your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Reiki requires a trained leader.

Because the Healing Arts Programs are supported 100% by philanthropy, this planned expansion is dependent on resources—both financial gifts and grants through the Augusta Health Foundation and volunteers. To make a gift to support the Healing Arts Program, please contact Augusta Health Foundation at 540.332.5174 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Artists, writers and caregivers who are interested in volunteering for the Healing Arts Program should contact Brad Johnson, Augusta Health Cancer Center Director, at 540.332.4347 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Augusta Health is an independent, community-owned, not-for-profit hospital whose mission is to promote the health and well-being of its community through access to excellent care. Named one of the 100 Top Hospitals in America by Thomson Reuters/Truven in both 2011 and 2012, Augusta Health has also been nationally recognized by HealthGrades as one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals for clinical excellence and patient safety for two consecutive years. For more information about Augusta Health, its programs or its services, please visit the website, www.augustahealth.com.



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  • FIT FOR LIFE HELPS THOSE IN NEED STAY PHYSICALLY ACTIVE.

    According to the Community Health Needs Assessment executed by Augusta Health in 2016, a top health priority for people throughout our region is the need to stay physically active and to eat nutritiously. Good health in general, and risk for specific diseases like diabetes and heart disease are often tied to physical fitness and good nutrition. Yet, there are some members in our community who are unable to exercise at a local fitness center, due to lack of income.

    To meet this specific need, Augusta Health Fitness Center developed the Fit for Life program, a six-month, medically prescribed exercise program for individuals in the community who could participate in an exercise program to help manage their medical condition, but who need financial assistance to participate. This program is funded through a grant from the Augusta Health Foundation’s Patient Care Fund.

    “The program is specifically for those with a medical diagnosis, such as diabetes or heart disease, and who may be able to better manage their condition with exercise. The program participants are supervised by an exercise specialist,” explains Stephanie Mims, PT, DPT, MBA, Director of Therapy Services and Fitness at Augusta Health. “The specialist, after testing the participant, will develop a specific, individualized exercise program. The goal is to be purposeful in helping each person improve his or her health.”

    In addition to pre-testing before beginning the program, a post-program fitness assessment will be done at the end of six months to monitor progress. The program can be renewed after the first six months.

    “There are some requirements for the program,” explains Mims. “There is a medical clearance form that must be completed by the physician’s office, and there is some paperwork for the individual to complete to show the need for financial assistance. Our assistance guidelines are based on the federal poverty guidelines, and are the same as those used by the hospital for financial assistance. Once approved, we expect people in the program to visit Augusta Health Fitness an average of eight times each month to complete the program designed for them. After three months, we review their progress and make sure that they are on track.”

    While the program is new, it is similar in fitness design to Augusta Health Fitness’ RxEx program. The RxEx program has demonstrated outcomes where participants have reduced their blood pressures, and improved their flexibility, strength and stamina.

    “We’re excited to fund innovative programs such as Fit for Life because they improve both the health and the quality of life of our community,” says Tami Radecke, Executive Director of the Augusta Health Foundation. “Fit for Life is one of six special projects throughout Augusta Health that were chosen for funding this year. All six improve the patient care experience, the quality of the care provided, and decrease the cost of care. All were made possible by generous community members’ gifts to the Augusta Health Foundation. We are all grateful for their partnership in improving the health of all in our community. ”

    Augusta Health Foundation’s mission is to inspire community ownership through charitable giving to advance health and wellness in our region. The Foundation is the charitable arm of Augusta Health and supports essential patient care programs and services at Augusta Health, including Augusta Health Hospice of the Shenandoah. For more information about Augusta Health Foundation, please visit the website, http://www.augustahealth.com/foundation.

    Augusta Health is an independent, community-owned, not-for-profit hospital whose mission is to promote the health and well-being of its community through access to excellent care. Named one of the 100 Top Hospitals in America by Thomson Reuters/Truven in both 2011 and 2012, Augusta Health has also been nationally recognized by Health Grades as one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals for clinical excellence and patient safety for three consecutive years. For more information about Augusta Health, its programs or its services, please visit the website, www.augustahealth.com.

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  • NEW TECHNOLOGY IS A LIFESAVER

    Every day – 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, 365 days each year – residents of our community are brought to the Augusta Health Emergency Department seeking care and treatment. Some are in critical condition and need immediate intervention. One such intervention when a heart stops is Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). It saves lives. CPR Compressions keep blood flowing to the brain and other vital organs until medical treatment can be given.  Without CPR, blood flow stops, organs begin to die, and survival is not possible.

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    “Another advantage of the mechanical chest compression system is that we can run a more organized ‘code’ when cardiac arrest happens. Before we had this system, we had to continually rotate out several providers to continue the CPR. With this new device, the mechanical system can consistently and at a high rate, deliver the compressions, so the staff is able to perform the multitude of other, very necessary procedures, that need to be done during a cardiac arrest,” added Dr. Rochman.

    Tami Radecke, Executive Director of the Augusta Health Foundation, says, “We are grateful to donors in and beyond our community who make gifts to support the Augusta Health Patient Care Fund. It is because of their generosity that we are able to provide this life-saving equipment to the Emergency Department. In 2017, the Foundation was able to fund six innovative projects at Augusta Health that improve the patient care experience, the quality of the care provided, and decrease the cost of care.”

    Augusta Health Foundation’s mission is to inspire community ownership through charitable giving to advance health and wellness in our region. The Foundation is the charitable arm of Augusta Health and supports essential patient care programs and services at Augusta Health, including Augusta Health Hospice of the Shenandoah.  For more information about Augusta Health Foundation, please visit the website, http://www.augustahealth.com/foundation.

    Augusta Health is an independent, community-owned, not-for-profit hospital whose mission is to promote the health and well-being of its community through access to excellent care.  Named one of the 100 Top Hospitals in America by Thomson Reuters/Truven in both 2011 and 2012, Augusta Health has also been nationally recognized by Health Grades as one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals for clinical excellence and patient safety for three consecutive years.  For more information about Augusta Health, its programs or its services, please visit the website, www.augustahealth.com

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  • Cancer Ties Us Together With Hope

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    It’s a coming together of community and business leaders, Augusta Health physicians, employees and grateful patients to support a great cause—the expansion of Augusta Health’s Emergency Department. The new Family Consultation Room area will provide a private space when “moments matter.” With this addition, families will have a quiet place where they can discuss treatment options or expected outcomes with physicians and caregivers.

    The event will feature heavy hors d’oeuvres, adult beverages and the band S.P. L. A. A. A. T. in a rustic, but elegant pavilion. Cost is $100 per person.

    For more information:
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  • BABYPALOOZA!

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