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      A holistic approach to hospice services

      Spake says research shows massage therapy can relieve anxiety and pain.

      Cindy Spake has been a massage therapist for the past 25 years. Now she's bringing her skills to the Blessing Hospital and Palliative Care team.

      "I try to create a really calm and soothing environment when I come in," Spake said. "It's a very unobtrusive, a very gentle kind of way to work with patients that have usually had a lot of medical intervention, and massage therapy can really balance out all the prodding and poking that they have been through in their care."

      The hospital has added a holistic approach to help its hospice patients, massage therapy. Spake says research shows massage therapy can relieve anxiety and pain.

      "It really gives them an opportunity to be with somebody completely new and neutral and to give such a gentle, healing touch," Spake said. "Hopefully by laying on of hands through very gentle means, that will help to reduce that anxiety that they may be feeling."

      "Some patients may have issues with anxiety and depression and they might not feel comfortable talking about it, to get that release from talking about it," Trista Neisen, a social worker at Blessing Hospital and Palliative Care, said. "So having someone able to come in and maybe release some of those endorphins in another manner, I think, is going to be very beneficial."

      Spake hopes to be that person for her patients. She is the only massage therapist offering this service through Blessing Hospice right now, but the program plans to hire more.

      Hospice patients will not have to pay out-of-pocket for massage therapy.

      If their insurance will not cover it, Blessing Foundation will pick up the tab.

      Patients in the Blessing Hospice service area of Adams, Brown, Hancock, Pike, Henderson, Greene, Calhoun, Scott and Jersey counties are eligible.