Sisters of Charity Hospital in Western New York State is a health care institution that offers hospital-based medical massage therapy.

Sisters of Charity Hospital in Western New York State is a health care institution that offers hospital-based medical massage therapy.

This program gives patients access to a variety of massage services, including deep tissue, orthopedic and Swedish massage.

Founded in 1848 by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, Sisters of Charity Hospital reports that it is Buffalo’s first hospital.

Massage therapist and massage department manager Susan Hanlon has been with Sisters of Charity for nine years in April, with 18 years’ experience as a massage therapist in general.

Hanlon says that roughly 80 percent of Sisters of Charity Hospital’s medical massage therapy clients are seen on an outpatient basis, mainly due to no-fault (auto accident injuries) or workers’ compensation claims.

The massage therapists at the hospital also receive orders from physicians to see patients in the hospital.

For instance, on Wednesdays, Hanlon and her team can often be found providing services to patients with cancer. “We do 10 to 15-minute massages on them while they’re getting chemo,” she says.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) shares that this can be beneficial, as many reviews and studies have found that, “at least for the short term, massage therapy for cancer patients may reduce pain, promote relaxation, and boost mood.”

The NCCIH also adds that special precautions must be taken with patients with this type of medical condition, such as not massaging directly over tumors and avoiding areas that could be sensitive due to radiation therapy.

Hospital-Based Medical Massage Therapy

In fact, it is these types of situations that Hanlon says drew her to providing massages in this type of setting.

It’s more of challenge, she says, because each patient is different in regard to his or her massage needs based on the injuries sustained.

This gives her the opportunity to practice different techniques, a factor that Hanlon also enjoys. “I like the variety,” she says, “and not doing the same technique over and over again.”

Increasing the challenge and the variety even more, Hanlon shares that, many times, what works for a patient one time may not work for them the next time.

It takes “a lot of communication,” she says, to ensure patients are receiving the hospital-based medical massage therapy they need.

Of course, the main difference between seeing massage therapy patients in a hospital setting is that there are more physical medical issues to deal with says Hanlon, whereas at a spa the focus is often on relaxation.

Training Requirements

To work in this type of setting in New York, massage therapists must be licensed by the state, says Hanlon.

These license requirements include receiving more than 1,000 hours of instruction in massage-related subjects and passing the New York State Massage Therapy Examination.

Alternatively, if massage therapists are licensed elsewhere and want to transfer to New York, they may be eligible for licensure by endorsement, which also carries the requirement of 1,000 hours of education and passing a comparable exam.

Massage therapists employed by a hospital should possess a liability insurance policy that covers many modalities and protects them in case of client accident or injury.

Although no special training is mandated to provide massage services within a hospital setting, Hanlon says that massage therapists interested in providing services to hospital patients should take some classes in myofascial release, specifically. She also advises that flexibility is required, as methodologies used vary tremendously.

About the Author:

Christina DeBusk is a freelance writer dedicated to providing readers relevant, research-backed content related to health and wellness, personal development, safety and small business ownership.