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Donna Audia, RN selected as a 2011 Health Care Hero Finalist

February 2011

The Daily Record Health Care Heroes awards program recognizes organizations and individuals in the health care industry who embody the spirit of the word "hero" and make a positive impact on the lives of others each day.

Each year, the program's judges review nominations received throughout the year and name finalists in eight categories. In 2011, eight health care professionals from the University of Maryland Medical Center and the University of Maryland School of Medicine were recognized as finalists in four categories.  Donna was nominated in the Nurse category.  Below is her nomination:

Nomination for Donna Audia, R.N.

Donna Audia, R.N.

Donna Audia, R.N.

Donna Audia, R.N., has been instrumental in bringing Reiki and other Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) therapies to the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center (STC) and the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC).

The STC initially hired Donna as a pain management nurse. Today, she works as a registered nurse in integrative therapy. She is one of only few such nurses in the country. As an integrative therapy nurse, she practices Reiki and energy medicine for trauma patients and refers them to other CAM practitioners, such as acupuncturists. She teaches patients relaxation techniques, meditation, guided imagery, visualization and yogic breathing. Donna has brought harpists to play on different floors throughout the STC to help create a more soothing and healing atmosphere.

As a testament to Donna's initiative and advocacy for Reiki and other CAM therapies, UMMC became the first hospital in the country to fund a Reiki nurse position. Donna trains other nurses in Reiki, allowing them to offer this therapy to their patients and fellow nurses.

Donna believes that if nurses and other medical professionals take better care of themselves, then they will provide better care for their patients. This belief led to the creation of Healing Pathways, a training course in integrative therapies for healthcare professionals at UMMC.

Participants in Healing Pathways, funded by the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Center for Integrative Medicine, have included nurses from UMMC, Walter Reed and other community-based hospitals in the Mid-Atlantic region. The course teaches many of the therapies Donna uses, as well as yoga, healing sounds, journaling and body scanning. In addition, Donna and Bonnie Taratino, the other Healing Pathways instructor, offer patient bedside monitoring to ensure nurses feel comfortable using these practices with their patients.

In addition to the patients STC treats because of their life-threatening injuries, the Center also receives referrals from Walter Reed Hospital. In many instances, these veterans are soldiers whose prognosis is dire. During the past year, Donna has worked with two veterans who lost limbs (and, in one instance, some neurological function as well) as a result of roadside bombs. Physicians had little hope for improving the conditions of these two veterans.

Donna practiced Reiki, as well as many of the other techniques cited above on each veteran and on their family members. Initially, some of the family members expressed skepticism about Reiki and CAM. However, after seeing the progress their loved ones made as a result of these therapies, both families now endorse them. One of the veterans even went on to learn Reiki and now provides the therapy to other veterans.

Donna has furthered the acceptance of Reiki at STC and UMMC. After observing her success, the Director of the Shock Trauma Center, Dr. Thomas Scalea, has become one of her biggest supporters. This has enabled Donna to become a mentor to many of the nurses at STC as well as UMMC. Many of the nurses Donna has mentored now provide Reiki to their colleagues who credit the therapy for helping them relieve stress and reduce frustrations in the workplace.

Courtesy UMMC:  http://www.umm.edu/features/audia_nomination.htm
View a video about how Reiki has made a difference in the lives of some of Shock Trauma's patients:  http://www.umm.edu/media/video/pss_forsythefinal.htm

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