Integrative Therapies

With a commitment to nurture mind, body, and spirit, Windber Hospice offers a variety of holistic, integrative therapies to our patients. Integrative therapies have been shown to offer comfort, reduce suffering, and improve quality of life in palliative care patients.

Dr. Warshel is a certified practitioner of acupuncture, a powerful and effective form of medical treatment that originated thousands of years ago. Utilizing very fine needles, inserted into specific points on the body, acupuncture can be very effective in restoring the body’s flow of energy. Dr. Warshel utilizes Five Element Acupuncture, also known as “Acupuncture for the Spirit,” in select individuals as an adjunct to their pain and symptom management when other therapies, traditional and non-traditional, are not adequately alleviating symptoms of disease.

Aromatherapy is the practice of using the natural oils extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots, and other parts of a plant to enhance psychological and physical well-being. The inhaled aroma from these essential oils is widely believed to stimulate brain function by tapping into the part of the brain that controls emotion. Essential oils can also be absorbed through the skin, where they travel through the blood steam and can promote whole-body healing. At Windber Hospice we utilize aromatherapy topically for wound healing and diffuse specific oils for anxiety, agitation, insomnia, etc as an adjunct for symptom management and all levels of healing.

Windber Hospice was the first hospice in the country to utilize flower essences as a complimentary healing modality for our patients and their family/caregivers. Flower essences are an energetic healing modality (much like acupuncture and reiki) and are potentized liquid extracts which contain the energetic imprint (and therefore no plant parts) of certain plants, trees or flowers. These liquid remedies are used either internally or topically to help deal with deep-seated emotional, physical, or spiritual energetic “blockages” and therefore facilitate the body’s natural healing abilities. They can be used specifically in hospice to deal with the emotions of fear, anger, grief, transition, which almost everyone facing the end of life or the loss of a loved one experiences. They are used under the guidance of Dr. Warshel and with the support of the hospice nurses, aides, and counselors to help heal with the issues that surface and need to be healed.

Guided imagery is a powerful approach to relaxation and wellness. It combines a healing story, visualizations, and affirmations with the most current understanding of the mind-body connection to help ease stress and grief, and relax the body.

Our hospice has a unique program offering massage therapy to our patients, as well as our caregivers. This gentle touch therapy has been designed to help the patient relax and reduce discomfort during all stages of their time with us.

Studies have shown that holding or petting an animal can result in a lowering of blood pressure, and the release of stress and tension. Contact with an animal can help lift a person from loneliness and depression. The canines in the Pet Therapy program at the hospital must pass The Canine Good Citizenship test and must meet certain health and grooming requirements. These loving animals make their rounds visiting patients and staff. Their sweet and loving natures bring a smile to all they meet.

Reiki is a healing technique with its roots in Japanese origin. The word Reiki comes from the Japanese with (Rei) which means “Universal Life” and (Ki) which means “Energy”. Reiki is not affiliated with any particular religion or religious practice. It is not massage, nor is it based on belief or suggestion. It is a subtle and effective form of energy work using spiritually guided life force energy.

A reiki session, performed by a certified practitioner, can help ease stress and tension and help support the body for healing on all levels – physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. The session is performed with the recipient fully clothed and the practitioner holding his/her hands slightly above the body. Reiki can be a profound healing modality for people living with a terminal illness or facing the journey at the end of their lives. It is a beautiful therapy offered to our patients of Windber Hospice.

Therapeutic music promotes an environment of healing and relaxation. Live music at the patient’s bedside is administered by our Certified Music Practitioner, Rachel Allen using voice and harp. It has been well documented that sound is the last sense to leave the body. Even when a patient is unresponsive and not oriented, they are able to hear their immediate environment. Therapeutic music helps to foster a calm, serene environment for our patients.