• By Dana Sparks

Sharing Mayo Clinic: Offering support through comforting touch

July 29, 2018

caring hands holding each other for comfort
Using the power of touch, more than 100 Caring Hands volunteers provide hand massages to ease stress and provide comfort to patients and caregivers across Mayo Clinic. 

One of Linda Bonow's favorite quotes is, "We can do no great things, only small things with great love." She is reminded of that saying each time she gives a cancer patient a hand massage as part of Mayo Clinic's Caring Hands program.

"It can be a long day for patients getting chemotherapy," Bonow says. "When I go into a patient's room, introduce myself and offer a hand massage, my hope is to provide comfort and ease."

Bonow, who has been a volunteer with Caring Hands for three years, says a big part of the experience is sensing what each patient needs at a particular moment.

"Sometimes they want to visit; other times they may want to be quiet," Bonow says. "I feel that their care and healing is physical, emotional and spiritual and try to meet them where they're at."

A welcome respite

Caring Hands began in 2006 as a way to help patients relax and ease their stress. Volunteers offer hand massages in 31 areas on Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus, including Cardiovascular Surgery, the Cancer Education Center, Infusion Therapy, Medical Oncology, Orthopedics, PediatricsRadiation Oncology, and the Transplant Center, as well as in areas that provide dialysis and chemotherapy. The program also extends to the Intermediate Special Care Nursery, where it serves parents whose infants are patients in the unit. Last year, more than 100 program volunteers provided a total of 8,824 hand massages.
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This article originally appeared on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.