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Hartford Hospital's Reiki Volunteer Program Celebrates 15th Year Anniversary

March 01, 2016

reiki-anniversaryThe year was 1998, and as the saying goes, “timing is everything.” Although the concept of an inpatient complementary and alternative (CAM) therapies program was still a novel one at that time, Hartford Hospital’s administration and North 8 management team took a very innovative stand and approved the development of a Reiki Volunteer pilot program in Women’s Health.

Reiki, a Japanese hands-on relaxation technique, was offered to N8 patients, families and staff and was provided by a group of specially trained hospital volunteers. This gentle, soothing touch often reduces stress and pain, can improve sleep, reduce nausea, and increase one’s sense of well-being and was a good match for their patients’ needs.

The Reiki Volunteer Program, co-coordinated by Reiki Master Alice Moore, RN, MA, and Eileen Pelletier, Co-Director of Volunteer Services Department, was an instant success with very positive outcome measurements. Patients and staff reported statistically significant reductions in pain and anxiety, as well as improvement with sleep. It was the success of the pilot program (which also offered Guided Imagery and Baby Massage) that made it easier to expand the CAM programs hospital-wide in 1999 (along with Massage, Acupuncture, and Expressive Art) as part of a formal Integrative Medicine Department.

As the number of Reiki requests increased hospital wide, so did the number of volunteers and sessions provided. In 1998, 10 volunteers provided 523 Reiki sessions. In 2012, approximately 40- 50 volunteers provided 3167 Reiki sessions. The total number of Reiki sessions provided over the 15 years is 58,214.

Not only have patients embraced the soothing and comforting touch of Reiki, but 84.4% say they would be more likely to choose Hartford Hospital for future admissions because of Reiki and other CAM therapies offered by Integrative Medicine. In 2008 the Reiki Program and Integrative Medicine became part of the Harry and Helen Gray Cancer Center, although services are available hospital – wide, in Outpatient Dialysis, Outpatient Post-op Day Surgery, as well as in the HH and Avon Cancer Centers.

In addition to ongoing positive patient feedback, the Reiki Volunteer Program has won two awards, the 2001 New England Association Directors of Healthcare Volunteer Services "President's Award for Outstanding Volunteer Program Development" and the 2002 American Society of Directors of Volunteer Services of the American Hospital Association "Extraordinary Program Award." These awards and Integrative Medicine Website has led to healthcare organizations across the country and from around the world contacting us for information about how to implement a Reiki Volunteer Program at their own facilities. Many have been able to develop successful programs and are now providing Reiki to their own patients. Our free online book (Building Bridges between Conventional and Complementary Medicine), written by Integrative Medicine staff and funded by the NIH National Libraries of Medicine, provides information on starting programs in medical organizations is now available here.

Although most medical practitioners are interested in seeing more research on CAM therapies, patient feedback cannot be denied when looking at the effectiveness of the program over the past 15 years (view our outcome measurements). In addition, here are some of our patient comments:

"I hope Reiki is always available because it helped me a lot in relaxing and healing, giving me energy to think positive and forget the bad things wrong with me. I thank you for Reiki, it really, really helped me!"

"I felt the Reiki program helped me to relax and deepen my breathing patterns which in turn reduced my pain I am very grateful for the Reiki Volunteers."

“I will never go to another hospital again because of the effect Reiki has had on me. I have had eight operations and the last one at HH was the most painful. The Reiki session helped me handle it and believe I can go through it again with Reiki.”

“Even on pain medications, after a Reiki session was the only time I was pain free!”

Critically important as well to the success of the Reiki Volunteer Program is the amazing group of volunteers who have come to the program, many volunteering their time after working full-time in the community or even after their shifts in the hospital as employees. We are very grateful for their dedication to the success of the program and to the comfort of our patients. Here are some of their comments:

“Following the session I did while a patient was getting chemo, she didn’t have any nausea or diarrhea and had a great week following the appointment. I would like this to be true for every Reiki patient.”

“I had the opportunity to work on a woman who specifically came to Hartford Hospital because the hospital was the only one at the time with a Reiki program and she wanted to experience it. Her husband was also present and asked if he could stay and observe since he was a physician at another hospital She was very please with the relief from Reiki!”

Complementary Reiki sessions are available for patients and families and may be requested online on SCM by the patient’s caregiver (a physician’s order is not required). Employees and the community may request a Reiki session by calling Integrative Medicine at 860-972-4444 (Reiki sessions are half price for hospital employees).

  • Gift certificates are available for most CAM therapies - call 860-972-4444
  • If you would like to become a Reiki Volunteer, please call Volunteer Services at 860-972-2198

Hartford Hospital