Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Nursing was known to be a stressful profession. There was plenty of data showing burnout to be a significant problem among US Nurses.
With increasing stress placed on front line Nurses during this pandemic, hospitals are investing in initiatives and programs to support the mental health of these employees.
Mount Sinai Health System, created recharge rooms for healthcare workers. Dr. Putrino and his team created multi-sensory experiences that can reduce stress in just 15 minutes. These rooms are filled with faux plants and candles, illuminated with calming lights and one wall displays relaxing scenes and sounds. Putrino said, "Listen, what we need is a space or a series of spaces where our healthcare workers can sit down and for just a moment have a lot of their stress just relieved and taken away from them."
Stony Brook Medicine used a similar idea when creating a respite room called "Resilience at the Brook." The large, peaceful area features plants, calming wall art, a pod for private mediation, and relaxing materials, such as coloring books and miniature Zen gardens, to help employees rejuvenate. Employees can also add encouraging messages and quotes to inspire each other on the Motivation Mural Wall.
Ohio State University Medical Center (OSUMC) Stress, Trauma and Resilience (STAR) Program uses the Buckeye Paws program. A group of certified therapy dogs visit to provide comfort and emotional support to healthcare staff.
Emily Fawcett, R.N., a float Nurse on all floors at Lenox Hill hospital, started "hope huddles." Hope huddles are held at the beginning of shift changes and Nurses gather together to share news of patients recovering and other inspiring, and even humorous, stories.
Cody Regional Health created a wellness area for employees. The new space, staffed 24/7, includes a meditation room, eight bedrooms with private bathrooms, laundry and shower facilities, on-site access to licensed therapists for emotional support, puzzles and games, and an exercise area to meet employees’ needs.
Elise Phelan, a surgical unit Charge Nurse at UCHealth created the Resilience Program. Phelan would bring in massage therapists, movement therapists, yoga instructors, nutritionists and sometimes therapy puppies.
Code Lavender began in 2008 with Earl Bakken at North Hawaii Community Hospital. Calling the code signals to the Code Lavender team that an individual or group of individuals are in need of emergency psychological assistance.
Many hospitals like Cleveland Clinic have started implementing this code. The Code Lavender team usually comprises representatives from the spiritual care and healing services departments, and other hospital-based support services (such as employee assistance, music therapy, wellness, the ethics consultation service, and art therapy), and volunteers.
Bayhealth offers staff Code Lavender Kits. Kits include a back massager, aromatherapy inhalers, LED candles, a sound machine, Code Lavender journals, and a tote to store everything in.
It's very clear there is a need for this kind of support and innovation. The well-being and morale of front line workers should remain a top priority even after the pandemic.