Fifth of a series on integrative healing in the Twin Cities

Regions Hospital in downtown St. Paul has been offering complementary care therapies to patients since 2006, and Renee Sauter has been there since the beginning. With a background in health, wellness and social work, she is a perfect fit for managing this new program.

The Complementary Care Therapies Department (CCTD) was launched with an internal grant opportunity. Nursing professionals, as well as others within the hospital organization, had a vision of adding holistic practices to patient care. Today, four years later, the CCTD provides the following therapy services: massage, music therapy, energy-based therapies, labyrinths, and relaxation television. These complementary care therapies are provided at no additional charge and are included as part of the patient experience. At this time, only specific units are serviced by the CCTD, but the future expectation is to expand services to all patients as part of their regular care at Regions.

“We see fantastic outcomes with our patients,” Sauter says,  and we see it growing through more patients requesting, as well as providers requesting, as part of the patient’s care plan.”

The overall goal of the Complementary Care Therapies Department is to enhance the health and healing process of the patients by providing therapies and services that promote the balance of mind, body and spirit. A health resource center located in the hospital assists people by helping them learn all they can to maximize their health and healing.

“The complementary care therapies department is part of the new model – a team of professionals who wish to engage the patients in their own care,” Sauter says. “We are focusing on creating healing environments by meeting ever-expanding patient expectations.”

Today, patients are consumers who are exploring their options and questioning the offerings available to them. “People are looking for additional ways to treat their ailments, and they are turning to therapies which complement their Western medical experiences,” she says. “The consumer wants choices and we see positive results from our complementary therapies – every day.”

Patient-centered care is the focus in the medical industry today. Sauter says, “Complementary therapies are an essential component of patient centered care – it is not a fad. There is a trend showing people becoming more proactive in their own health care. As people share their stories, complementary therapies will continue to grow in use.”

“A man told me about his wife in the intensive care unit and how the massage therapist really helped make a difference and how the music television with the nature sounds made her calmer,” Sauter says. “(We worked) with a young woman who had been in a car accident – had a traumatic leg amputation…she had never heard of Healing Touch or Reiki, but it is one of the only things that helped with her phantom pain…(she) found it very calming and comforting.”

While there are hundreds of examples of positive experiences, Sauter says, “Everybody’s journey is different…but for them to say it has made all the difference…bringing a sense of relief and calm…increasing trust and confidence in care providers – it’s a win-win all the way around.”

The greatest challenge facing the Complementary Care Therapies Department at Regions Hospital is the same as everywhere today: funding. Sauter says the program is funded by operational monies, generous employee donations and small grants.

“As we continue to move forward, you never know how you are going to impact people,” Sauter says. “We are here to help people through their healing journeys.”

Sauter reminds the public about how important it is to be your own advocate. “Do your homework,” she says. “Do not be afraid to learn about something and ask for what you want.”

Regions Hospital is located at 640 Jackson St., St. Paul, MN 55101. For further information, contact www.regionshospital.com.


Next month: An interview with Dr. Tim Culbert, Director of Integrative Medicine, at Childrens Hospital.

Pam Olson is a recent graduate of the Master of Arts in Holistic Health Studies program at Saint Catherine University. She has a long history of interest in metaphysical studies and actually worked with The Edge in 2001 on the first Expo at the Minneapolis Convention Center. She is trained in Healing Touch, Reiki and Magnified Healing energy-based therapies and has her own practice in Burnsville, MN. She can be reached at [email protected]

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