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Massage Today
February, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 02

Patricia Cadolino, LMT

By Claudette Laroche, RN, LMT, NCTMB

Patricia "Patti" Cadolino is "the first" in many of her professional endeavors. Most recently, she is the first massage therapist to be employed by New York State in a full-time, salaried position (with benefits), working at The University Hospital at Stony Brook, on central Long Island.

As she states, "I was in the right place at the right time with the specialized credentials that were being sought by the hospital. I've had unbelievable support from a very persistent and hard-working administration -- they truly respected my profession and work; they saw an important need for massage services in our hospital."

Patti's path to University Hospital started in 1990, when she became a New York licensed and registered massage therapist after graduating from New York College in Syosset. She channeled her high energy into running her own private practices in the Manhattan and Sayville areas. In that, according to Patti, her "true love is working with babies," she pursued her certification as an Infant Massage Instructor in 1993, with additional training in touch therapy for premature and/or medically fragile infants, in the Nurturing Touch Program at St. Luke's Hospital, Kansas City, Missouri, in 1997.

Her hospital-based training started at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan in 1997 where she was employed one to two days per week. She was trained to work with cancer patients, transplant recipients, and postsurgical cardiac patients.These educational experiences -- hospital based massage and certification as an infant massage therapist --were part of the right experiential mix for Patti to obtain her position at Stony Brook in October 1998.

"I've learned from the medical community, and they have learned from me how and why massage can benefit their patients. It takes a lot of creative scheduling and a wonderful clinical assistant to make it all come together in an organized and effective manner. I set high standards and work hard to meet my goals. At this point, I'm the only massage therapist in the hospital; over time I would like to expand services throughout the hospital and start a volunteer massage program for the medical and hospital staff. This is a great way to educate and ensure future patient referrals, and the staff also benefits from receiving massage."

Patti's work reads like a never-ending "to-do" list! She started the hospital's first in/outpatient massage program, and the "Nurturing Touch Program" in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), where Patti teaches parents one-on-one, or in a small group setting, how to give nurturing touch to their medically challenged or premature newborn. Initially, this was a "fee for service" course paid for by families, but Patti was able to eliminate this fee to parents by having the service included as part of the hospital stay.

When Patti works with the Pediatric Infectious Disease Clinic, she teaches parents and foster parents how to massage their children, infants to adolescents, who are suffering with HIV/AIDS. This also includes providing massage to the pregnant HIV moms. Parents of full-term babies and parents of children with ADHD, bulimia, cancer, and other health conditions benefit from the monthly instructional classes she teaches.

Grand-Rounds for medical doctors, nurses, and medical students is the perfect setting for Patti to lecture on the benefits and research indications of massage therapy. Medical students and cardiac patients fill her stress management classes.

Patti was also trained in research methods by Dr.Tiffany Field at the University Medical School in Miami. "I have so much respect for her; I'm convinced that without her research I wouldn't be in my job," says Patti.

Through Patti's efforts and creativity last year, a unique project, the Massage Research Project for pediatric/oncology patients at Stony Brook, received approval (she asked and received!) to piggyback with the yearly hospital fundraiser/golf outing, with proceeds going to the massage research project. She is currently awaiting formal approval to run the research.

According to Patti, "I am working with a Pediatric MD-Oncologist and a PHD/Epidemiologist. The focus of the research is to find ways to reduce pain and anxiety before cancer treatments. I feel that parents need to be empowered and have the tool of massage to help ease their children's discomforts; they can connect with their child through touch at a very difficult time. I will be instructing parents how to give a 20-30 minute massage to their child at home or in the hospital."

Patti has developed the massage protocols, needs, and budget for this project, which is expected to run for one year.

Since most of Patti's patients are referred by the medical doctors in the hospital, her massage focus is on those with varied needs and medical conditions. One of her clients, Michael Adams, states "I see Patricia about once a week. It's been a big help for me, dealing with the stress of being on dialysis three days a week."

Massage is a hospital service and is billed directly to patients as a "fee for service." There has been some insurance billing, but it is in limbo at this time. "Not many insurance companies pay for massage- so we kept the fees low for patient affordability," says Patti.

Patti is also working with the development and public relations office to write brochures for all the massage services.

Patti is actively involved in the NY State Society of Medical Massage Therapists, attested to by the fact she recently was elected president. Of course, I asked about membership requirements, and she was quick to say that "any NY licensed massage therapist may belong; this state organization was formed in 1927 and we are planning a large conference to celebrate the 75th anniversary."

Squeezed into her spare time, she was deployed to ground zero in September and October 2001 as a trained leader for AMTA's Massage Emergency Response Team (MERT). As she highlights, "this is another whole story to tell! The healing power of touch in just a 15-minute chair massage was an important piece in the Red Cross respite centers; it wasn't just healing for them but for me as well."

Thank you, Patti, for creating the extra time in your life to help those in such need.

In October, 2001, she completed a three-day preceptorship at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. The key ingredient for her was the guidance, "tailored to her hospital needs", that she received to enhance her skills in appropriately touching and caring for the infant in the neonatal intensive care unit. She also honed her teaching methodologies and skills for imparting information to the parents and caregivers of these infants.

Patti states: "This has been an incredibly rewarding and challenging career for me. I have to be very professional, well articulated, and persistent in integrating massage in an academic-university hospital setting. I formulated written guidelines and materials from scratch- protocols, intake forms, medical charting, etc. It has all been very positive."

Given all the roles Patti fills, I asked her how many hours a week she works, to which she responded "even though it's a Monday-Friday salaried position, I work more than 40 hours! It reflects my goal of striving to integrate massage services into the medical facility."

Somehow Patti finds the time to be an avid golfer. She enjoys skiing and ocean beaching out in Montauk, on New York's Long Island, with her family, husband Paul, a chiropractor; her stepdaughter Theresa, 21; son Kyle, 14; and daughter Alana Rae, 10. "My family is so supportive -- without them I couldn't do all that I do."

You may reach Patricia Cadolino at The University Hospital at Stony Brook: (631) 444-4592.

Click here for previous articles by Claudette Laroche, RN, LMT, NCTMB.


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