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Massage Oasis joins UIHC

BY EMILY MELVOLD | MAY 08, 2009 7:29 AM

A trip to the hospital is seldom labeled relaxing, but a new center at the UI Hospital and Clinics is helping employees and visitors unwind.

A Massage Oasis opened a new location near the fountain entrance of the UIHC on Monday, providing a walk-in service for patients, faculty, and visitors. They can sign up for 10- to 30-minute chair massages for $1 per minute.

Workers at the company, which has contracts with the hospital, said they already had one location in the Pomerantz Family Pavilion, and they want to add a more “convenient” location.

Since the addition of the second massage center, Oasis has double its business, said owner Kristen Stephens.

She pointed to stress from the recession as a possible reason for the increase.

“People are a little more stressed with budget cuts and the economy the way it is, and we just really love to help them de-stress,” she said.

UIHC faculty are the most frequent customers, she said, and many have become repeat clients.

“It’s excellent — it gets all of my kinks and pressure points,” said Gary Pirkl, a nine-year employee of the UIHC who has received two 30 minute sessions. “I come away a lot more relaxed and refreshed after.”

Massage has many health benefits, Stephens said, including reduced muscle pain, enhanced circulation, and improved thinking, among others.

She would like to see more people incorporate massage into their health routines, she said.

“People think massage is just about being pampered, but it’s more than that,” Stephens said. “It’s about wellness.”

The neck, shoulders and back areas are the main focuses for the Oasis chair massages. All of the staff members are licensed, and five of Stephens’ seven employees graduated from the East-West School of Integrative Healing Arts in North Liberty, where Stephens serves as director.

The school — awarded Small Business of the Year in 2008 by the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce — was formerly located in downtown Iowa City but moved to North Liberty because of an increasing numbers of students.

Mark Linahon, a graduate of the school and professional masseur, serviced three clients within one hour on Thursday afternoon. He stressed the importance of massages, noting he gets one every week.

“$10 and 10 minutes can make a big difference in your day,” Stephens said. “It feels like we are adding just a little more warmth to the hospital.”


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