OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WATE) — Methodist Medical Center nurses and staff were able to take a small break that literally took some stress off their shoulders, thanks to Roane State Community College students and volunteers.

On Wednesday, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., massage therapy students gave 10 to 15-minute massages to nurses and medical staff at MMC. The goal was to give at least 100 massages. They ended up giving more than 150.

Vicki Winston, Interim Director of Roane State’s massage therapy program, said she got a call from Vickie Pierce, Roane State’s Associate Professor of Nursing about wanting to help the staff at MMC.

“As massage therapists and the nursing students from Roane State, we have an opportunity to give back in a way that offers them comfort and just some measure of peace,” Winston said.

Shaun Clayton, a registered nurse and MMC’s Director of Critical Care and Emergency Services, said the massages were much needed for her staff. Because of the pandemic, they’ve had to take on roles and extra shifts they don’t usually work.

“They’ve all stepped up, they’re working very hard and facing new challenges and something like this just brings a sense of encouragement for them,” Clayton said.

Clayton said she’s seen her staff go through it all during the pandemic. It’s been a stressful time, and she’s so grateful the students came to help out.

“They have cried, they have had happy days, they have had moments of defeat. They have had moments of success. And that’s very, very challenging on individuals emotionally. So, something like this, it brings joy to my heart to see somebody taking care of them,” Clayton said.

Nurses definitely enjoyed the tranquility and their knots getting massaged out.

“It was really relaxing. It was nice just to have a minute and for her to spend some time to pamper me,” Janae Holmes, a registered nurse and the nurse manager at MMC, said.

She said the support not only relieved some of her aches and pains, but knowing the community cares in this way also helped heal her mind.

“It really, definitely helps refresh your mind and your body, and you can come out and kind of tackle your next task,” Holmes said.

While nursing staff was getting treated to massages (and eating treats Roane State students made or bought), clinical nursing students supported the staff on the medical floors, helping take care of patients.

“When you’re having to turn patients or move patients or push stretchers or beds or anything like that, it’s always nice to have an extra set of hands,” Clayton said.

Roane State staff said they had two goals for the day: give the nurses and medical staff some relaxation and relief, and inspire other institutions to do the same at local hospitals. Winston said Wednesday was a great way for the massage community to show they’re back after having to stop services during the pandemic.

“Massage is a safe way to combat the stress that they’re feeling now, you know, whether you’re in a setting like this that’s just highly volatile, or if you’re at home with your kids because they’re out of school. You know, um, massage is a great way to just ameliorate the effects of that stress,” Winston said.

She said she reached out to several alumni and massage therapy friends she’s worked with over the years to help out. The day was also a great teaching moment for students. Not only do they learn that community service is important to growing their business, but they also get to see real people appreciate what they can do.

“We get into this field because we want to see the effect of the work that we do. I get to see not only the professionals with the joy of getting to meet folks that are caring for our families, but I get to see the students watch the appreciation that the nurses and the other staff members have,” Winston said.

Clayton said she and her staff were truly grateful.

“Any time the community reaches out and shows the community support for the staff here, it really uplifts their spirits and that’s important to keep them going,” Clayton said.