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Natural Awakenings Northwest Florida

Complementary Care : at Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast

Aug 30, 2013 12:33PM ● By Daralyn Chase and Martin Miron

Fashion designer Donna Karan brought together some of the most brilliant minds in Western medicine and ancient philosophy thinking in regard to health care at a forum in Manhattan and asked, "How do we begin to merge these two systems into a system that treats the patient, not the disease?"

Out of that meeting grew the Urban Zen Integrative Therapy forum in 2009 ( Ed Dailey, a registered nurse with nearly 20 years of experience, who spent more than a decade studying yoga with acclaimed teacher Rodney Yee, is a registered yoga teacher and Urban Zen integrative therapist. Dailey has practiced complementary care at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City and the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, Connecticut.

He says, "I was one of the first group of [100] people to go to through Beth Israel Medical Center, where I treated patients from a yoga therapy standpoint, and we were filtering in all these other modalities that came into play that were part of the Urban Zen package."

Nina Jeffords, chief operating officer/chief nurse officer of Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast, recalls, "Our leadership was looking for better ways to lessen pain other than using drugs for pain management, and in my research I found that we had a staff member who was already versed in complimentary care. I contacted Ed Dailey and we had some in-service for our staff, then during our leadership retreat, Ed did a presentation on the program educating our leaders, and shortly afterward we put the program in place."

Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast’s Complementary Nursing Care Program blends the science of traditional medicine with the art of healing. Complementary therapy services are used with conventional medical treatments to enhance the level of care for patients and promote healing. These approaches can be used to help inpatients with pain, nausea, anxiety, insomnia, immobility and constipation.

To avoid erroneous connotations of yoga as a religious practice, Urban Zen describes yoga therapy as in-bed movement for circulation. "I say we are going to do some in-bed movement for circulation to help prevent against blood clots, pneumonia and skin breakage, which are all clinically proven to be what happens if you don’t move your body. This is especially important for a patient that may be very ill and bedridden," says Dailey.

Another part of Urban Zen is restorative postures, which pays specific attention to the architecture of the body to promote a sense of relaxation. Aromatherapy, using pure essential oil, and nutrition for contemplative care or care of the dying patient, is different from hospice, and that needs to be clarified. Other components of Urban Zen include breath awareness techniques and meditation techniques.

Urban Zen is being utilized at UCLA, in Los Angeles, which is currently training their staff. A new training center is launching in Columbus, Ohio, as well as this spring in Fort Walton Beach, at Dragonfly Yoga, which will be a yearlong training. UCLA CEO David Fienberg states it is his vision to train at least 500 people.

Dailey says, "We are seeing a growing facet of these things that have come into play utilizing the Urban Zen modalities. The beauty is that it is applicable across the board; in an inpatient setting, people are using it in radiation therapy. In oncology centers on outpatient basis, we are utilizing it at the Dragonfly Yoga Center, where people come to a group program on Sunday mornings, or I can be referred to a patient in their home. Some are being treated in nursing homes."

As for prospective trainees, Dailey says, "We are looking at people who have some sort of medical background, who are interested in self-care or are taking care of love ones. We will be looking to train occupational therapists, massage therapists and yoga instructors. The course will include medical knowledge and yoga training. My goal is to have a least four or five colleagues go through this training and have them be able to replicate what I do, so we have a sustainable program."

Dailey continues, "When I came here, as with many hospitals, there were a lot of issues around pain management.

Joint commission has come together to say, ‘Every hospital in the U.S. needs to have some type of investigation into alternative pain management, other things that might work for our patients.’

Nina Jeffords got word from my boss that I was coming to the area, so I was contacted and asked to give a presentation. Although we don’t call it Urban Zen, it is referred to as the Complementary Care Program." It is a non-billable service, but a way Sacred Heart can go above and beyond. Jeffords recognized this and became the visionary behind bringing this option to the northwest Florida area.

Dailey explains, "On a national level, the health care field is ripe. Surgeons are worked very hard and everyone in my profession is worked very hard, and I think Urban Zen is only going to get bigger. The state of healthcare is changing and the time is right for this change. Sacred Heart and Urban Zen are people and programs that are on the forefront of this change. People like Nina Jeffords and Donna Karan are visionary for a better way in health care."

There is a very personal side to the dedicated practitioners in the field. As Dailey states, "For people like me, who are actually applying and teaching these modalities, what makes it even more effective is that I am doing what I teach every day before work and every night.

Traditional pain management begins with asking the patient, "On a scale of one to 10, can you tell me where your pain is?" After medication, the doctor or nurse goes back to ask, "Now where is your pain?" Jeffords says, "We do the same thing with the complementary program to make sure the treatment we are giving them is working."

For patients, the empowerment enabled by complementary care is significant. As Dailey reports, "Psychologically, that is huge, they feel like they having something else they can do to help them get better. They actually have a say in what they do in the hospital. At Yukon Health Center, I treated 1,200 patients in a year; 60 percent reported pain and over 700 self-reported reduced pain scores of 3.1. From an anesthesia point of view, 2 or greater is considered significant.

Jeffords adds, "I have to emphasize that if we can give them something that they can take away with them and use in other parts of their lives, if it helps even one person, we feel we have made a difference. We offer our staff tuition reimbursement, so once the training is in place, I will be looking at how we can give some scholarships for this program."

Jeffods continues, "Patients can self-refer themselves, or physicians or nurses can make a referral if the patient has unrelieved pain from medication or intermittent pain. But complementary care is not only for pain, it’s also for relaxation. When you’re in a hospital, facing surgery or going through cancer treatment, it just helps alleviate the anxiety some patients have."

On the administrative side, Jeffords says, "Hopefully, complementary care will help decrease costs for the patient and decrease what stress does to the body. Overall, we hope to improve the patient’s health and lifestyle, which in the long run is going to decrease healthcare costs."


Ed Dailey is a graduate and faculty member of the Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program ( For more information about Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast, visit

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