Fresno's Kaiser Permanente offers free massages

FRESNO, Calif.

Just walking into a hospital makes many people, anxious, as they face a medical test or procedure. But at Kaiser Permanente, in Northeast Fresno, patients are finding stress relief in the very place that makes them nervous.

This group of volunteers offers patients, visitors and staff members, relaxing hand and arm massages, free of charge. Pat Suckut uses her skills as a retired manicurist to train the other volunteers.

"It's fun," said Suckut. "It's enjoyable and it makes them feel good, it gives them a lift in their day."

The massages are designed to sooth away tension and create a more healing experience in the hospital. Joyce Shaw appreciates the special attention.

Shaw said, "You'd better believe it's a nice treat, especially in the hospital."

Staff members also benefit from the stress relief, and some say it makes them better able to handle their workload.

Registered Dietician Jami Martinez said, "It feels really good and it feels very relaxing after typing on a computer all morning and getting a nice stress relief break."

Nurse Katie Dill heads Kaiser's Care Experience Team and says the massages can have instant medical benefits.

Dill explained, "When we're able to touch a hand or be able to place a hand on an individual's hand or an arm that healing connection, there's actual research to show that it will decrease anxiety and we feel that connection with another human being."

A study by Bowling Green State University looked at 52 people who were given a 15 minute massage. The patients' blood pressures were measured before and after the massage. After the massage, the patients showed a significant reduction in their blood pressure.

Kaiser's massage program has been in place since January and the response has been positive, hands down.

A soothing service that replaces stress with smiles.

Kaiser's goal is to expand the massage program and use it as an introduction to health care for high school and college students who want to get into the medical field.

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