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MMH Offers New “Comfort Cart” to Patients

February 28, 2019

As part of Massena Memorial Hospital’s Pain Management Program, which is led by Clinical Pharmacy Director Ashli Buddenhagen, BCPS, Registered Nurses Susan Smith and Deb Cameron have created a “Comfort Cart” for patients experiencing pain. The idea of this cart is to provide patients with alternative therapies other than pain medications, specifically opioids. As Buddenhagen said, “MMH wants patients to be comfortable but not heavily medicated. We are committed to properly assessing and managing patients’ pain without overusing opioids.” 

When nurses take the comfort cart from room-to-room, they will provide patients with a Comfort Menu. Some therapies listed in this menu include having a nurse help the patient with walking, stretching, visualizing, taking slow breaths, relaxing, aromatherapy, talking with a Chaplain or praying, and adjusting the lights or their bed and pillow. The comfort cart and menu will also contain several comfort items, such as stress balls, disposable ear plugs, nail files, chap sticks, pillows, notepads, pens, crayons, coloring pages and activity sheets. Patients might find that these non-medication options can help with their pain, and it is important for health professionals to try these therapies with patients before prescribing pain medications. 

Opioids are highly addictive, especially when patients take them in larger quantities or more frequently than their doctor prescribed. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 100 Americans die each day because of an overdose. Furthermore, prescription opioids are involved in more than 40 of these deaths, and approximately 1,000 patients are taken to emergency rooms every day because they have misused their prescriptions. 

For these reasons, NIH recommends that patients ask their providers about drug-free alternatives to relieve their pain. These options could be more effective and come with fewer risks. Although there is no one size fits all approach to pain management, patients should keep an open mind and try various drug-free options first. Massena Memorial Hospital is dedicated to keeping their patients and community safe and preventing opioid abuse and overdoses by helping patients explore non-medication treatment options. 

For more information about drug-free pain management options, please visit the following link from the hospital’s health library:,736852