Blue Hill Memorial Hospital celebrated Nurses Week 2012 with a number of activities, including a special presentation by Beverly Buczynski-Kelley on the topic of holistic nursing and integrative healing. Buczynski-Kelley moved to Penobscot from the Boston area, where she worked at Massachusetts General Hospital in many different disciplines including neurosurgery and cardiology. She was attracted to the Blue Hill region because it is “steeped in holism.”
Connie Barrett, Blue Hill Memorial Hospital’s Chief Nursing Officer, developed the program for Nurses Week and invited Buczynski-Kelley to speak to the hospital’s nursing staff, as well as other local nurses. “Bev’s expertise and passion around the topic of holistic healing is a perfect fit for us,” says Barrett. “Our patients are very interested in holistic approaches, and we also have many nurses who would like to learn more.”
In addition to offering holistic care to patients, Buczynski-Kelley participated in several research projects which nurtured her life-long interest in integrative approaches to medicine and healing. “I have always been a seeker and sometimes been a rebel,” she says. “I’m a Reiki master, and have practiced or am still involved in meditation, therapeutic touch, Buddhism, and Tai Chi. It’s not just about taking better care of our patients. We need to empower our patients to consider all of the options that might work for them, creating a bridge to personal wellness.”
Buczynski-Kelley admits that a research and teaching environment can be more open to new ideas and approaches, and is grateful to the men and women who mentored her throughout her career at Mass General. “A nationally renowned expert like Dean Ornish, (MD) recognized that the heart can break for reasons that extend well beyond a patient’s eating habits and activity levels,” she explains. She adds that Herb Benson, the cardiologist who founded and remains the namesake for the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital approached her team to assist with an early study on stress management and hypertension. “Experts understand that the human body is extremely complex. They are looking for additional ways to help their patients,” she says.
Acknowledging that skeptics abound in hospitals of all sizes, Buczynski-Kelley emphasizes that energy work, acupuncture, and similar approaches do not replace allopathic medicine. “We’re not talking alternatives, or alternative medicine. We’re promoting practices that are truly complementary. That is, therapeutic touch can help one of my hospice patients who may also need traditional painkillers. Or Reiki work may help someone prepare for surgery, but does not alleviate the need for a knee replacement.” Buczynski-Kelley also believes that the majority of holistic approaches share one important aspect in common. “These practices move us away from fear-based medicine,” she says.
Buczinski-Kelley notes that a commitment to holistic approaches helps more than the patient. “We’re always talking about an exchange,” she says. “We help our patients when we describe or administer a holistic approach. At the same time, as nurses we are helping ourselves and each other.”
In describing the breadth of her curiosity about life and healing, Buczinski-Kelley insists that she is not alone. “It’s true… I even took some Egyptian studies courses and traveled to Egypt,” she says. “But so did my heroine, Florence Nightingale.”