A new dimension in medical and surgical care is being offered at New Milford Hospital.

Therapies including reflexology, music therapy, therapeutic touch and acupuncture are provided by a group of experienced practitioners, credentialed through the hospital's medical staff office.

In addition, therapy dogs have had a presence for several years at the hospital. The canines are found to bring a sense of well-being to patients, contributing to the healing process and patient's overall health, said Dr. Frederick Browne, the hospital's chief medical officer.

Hypnotherapist Alexandra

Chalif offers a program of guided imagery hypnotherapy performed before one-day or major surgery procedures.

"Alexandra meets with the patient before the procedure," Dr. Browne explained, "and talks about places the patient sees as comforting environments -- like a walk along the beach -- and implants that image in the patient's mind."

"Then she goes into the surgery and talks the patient into that peaceful place while he (or she) is being moved to the operating table," he added.

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Surgical services manager R.N. Diane Wilson said patients have had "favorable responses" to hypnotherapy, with some repeat patients requesting it.

Therapeutic touch therapy and reflexologists are also "getting quite a following," Ms. Wilson said.

She has integrated medicine therapists in one-day surgery at least twice a week and would like to increase their presence, she said.

Oncology patient Kendra Shaw of New Milford is taking advantage of the acupuncture and massage offered at the hospital's Regional Cancer Center.

"The anticipation of coming into chemotherapy puts you in knots," Mrs. Shaw said. "Then you come in and the acupuncturist/massage therapist goes to work and you're totally relaxed."

Dr. Browne noted "As far as we are concerned, these integrative medicine techniques are relaxing, thus stress relieving for the patient."

"It's part of the family feel we strive for," he concluded. "The addition of integrated medicine puts together that mind, body, spirit experience."