(Sept. 12, 2018) Catherine Read sits down with Executive Director Lauren Cates of Healwell Massage Therapy. They are a nonprofit with the mission of providing exceptional and compassionate massage therapy in hospitals and other care settings to patients living with acute, chronic or terminal illness. Their therapists work in direct partnership with the medical teams in clinical settings to help decrease pain, manage symptoms and bring greater comfort to those living with advanced disease.
Cates acknowledges that not all massage therapists are created equal. Those who are practicing the trade, come to the profession with varying degrees of training and experience. Additionally, the industry does not have a lot of standards by which to judge practitioners, and every state classifies and regulates the profession in a different manner. Healwell offers training to their therapists, so when they enter a clinical environment they are aware of the challenges that the patients are facing.
At then end of the day, their goal is to provide a safe and effective massage, which eases pain, increases comfort and hopefully make the patient forget that they are suffering, even if it is only for the short hour that they spend together. Many studies have shown that there is a direct link between brain health and physical health, and the goal of Healwell massage therapists is to bring patients relief and freedom from their pain.
Healwell works with three large hospital systems in the Washington, DC area – Medstar Georgetown, Children’s National and Virginia Hospital Center. Their therapists all undergo training through the Hospital Massage Therapy Stewardship Program, an intensive 9-day continuing education course run out of the Virginia Hospital Center. All of the students who come through this program experience a rotation in the hospital, working side by side with clinicians in three distinct patient units.
The Healwell team also offers a variety of courses in Oncology Massage and other aspects of clinical practice throughout the United States. They provide basic and advanced courses, designed to serve practitioners at all levels. The instructor teams all work actively in an oncology setting, and deliver courses that can prepare therapists to support a broad spectrum of medically complex patients. Ultimately, Cates would like to recruit more therapists to train and work in the clinical settings here in the Washington metro area. They are in search of trained professionals looking to elevate themselves to a new level of caregiving.
In addition to training therapists to deliver specifically adapted and supportive massage therapy to patients living with disease, Healwell partners with their partner organizations to demonstrate the hands on abilities of integrative therapies to measurably improve outcomes through clinically sound, replicable models. Their research measures the effect of massage therapy on patients during cancer treatments, as well as patients who are hospitalized for other life-limiting illnesses.