Oasis for Healing Program wins national award


From left: Carol Joy, volunteer, Reiki master and one of the pioneers of YNHH's Oasis for Healing Program, Abel and Clariana show off the Extraordinary Program Award the hospital received for the program.

Oasis for Healing, Yale New Haven Hospital's complementary healing volunteer program, recently received the 2015 Extraordinary Program Award from the American Hospital Association's Healthcare Volunteer Resource Professionals Association.

Oasis for Healing offers relaxation and stress-reduction sessions, including Reiki/healing touch, guided relaxation and light-touch massage, to patients, family members and staff. Other techniques offered include guided imagery and breathing exercises. Oasis volunteers visit medical units at different times of the day to help reduce stress and anxiety, support pain control and promote relaxation and a sense of well-being.

The program, which began as a trial on six hospital units in May 2014, has expanded to include inpatient units throughout YNHH. More than 1,000 patients and staff have participated to date. "The techniques provided through the program help put patients in a more relaxed state," explained Fernanda Clariana, coordinator for Volunteer Services and Oasis for Healing. "Studies have shown that being more relaxed contributes to the healing process. Our specially-trained volunteers also provide each participant with a self-care resiliency kit and techniques that they can continue at home after discharge."

The Oasis for Healing program is in line with one of YNHH's key goals, to create a healing environment that enhances the patient experience. Results from surveys of patients and staff who participated in Oasis relaxation sessions during the first year showed a substantial reduction in discomfort, pain, fatigue and anxiety and significant improvements in mood.

The Oasis program can help caregivers with "compassion fatigue," said Lynelle Abel, director, Volunteer and Guest Services. "Providing a very brief Reiki session, light massage or guided imagery allows staff to experience a sense of care and concern. Caregivers know that when they feel better themselves, they are in a better state to help their patients."

Many employees have also expressed interest in volunteering for the program. Employees wishing to be trained in Reiki, light-touch massage or other relaxation techniques or modalities to volunteer in the Oasis program should call 203-688-2997 on the York Street Campus or 203-789-3480 on the Saint Raphael Campus.