They set up shop three days a week and in two months they’ve given 500 free massages. This is no day spa. It’s a patient waiting area at Gulf Coast Medical Center.

“This is our surgical waiting area so we have many family and friends who are here, worried and stressed because their loved one’s having surgery or an invasive procedure,” says Claude Houle, director of surgery services.

Most of the people in the surgical waiting room expect to be here for a while. The massages give them fifteen minutes to relax and focus on themselves.

Therapists are students from a local massage school, in their final weeks before graduation.

“Here we mainly focus on the chair massage. Your stress a lot of times will gather and culminate right there at the neck. So if you notice they’re doing mainly head, neck, shoulders,” says L.J. Zielke, owner of Florida Academy of Massage.

In just a quarter hour, the masseuse works their way up tired backs, across tense shoulders, and down to clenched fingers.

“I’m here for my husband who is having a procedure so actually it was wonderful. I would do this again,” says Nancy Karchunas.

It’s a welcome relief for the waiting public and a healthy boost to their day.

“It has been very well received and it connects well with our patient and family centered initiative. This is very unique for our health system and really in the country,” says Houle.

View More Health Matters video segments at leememorial.org/healthmatters/

Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we've been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.

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