Recharge room offers calm environment for hospital employees

Maybe they had to deliver some difficult news to a patient.

Maybe they had a difficult patient interaction.

Maybe they just need a calm, quiet place to go for a few minutes where it’s only them in the room.

Schneck Medical Center employees now have that option.

On March 11, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was conducted for the new recharge room inside the Seymour hospital.

Walking through the door, on the right is a small cabinet with water, tea, coffee, a diffuser and a CD player. In the right corner is a high table with a couple of chairs next to windows. On a nearby wall is a wooden rack with Bibles, devotionals, word search books, journals and adult coloring books. The rest of the room includes two couches, a chair, a massage chair, a television and lamps.

Since the recharge room has been open, those involved in making it happen have heard positive feedback.

“The feedback has been ‘It’s just nice to know I have a place where I can go, even if it’s just for my 15-minute break, to recollect myself, to clear my thoughts,’” said Julie Warren, director of human resources for the hospital.

“I had one team member that specifically said they had the start of a headache and felt like it was a tension stress headache. They went 10 minutes to the recharge room, sat in the massage chair, took a moment to refocus, came back down and finished their shift,” she said.

Some also have gone to the recharge room at the end of their shift before they got in their car to go home to their family, and they left with a good, peaceful train of thought, Warren said.

Amy Pettit, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer, said whether a staff member has experienced something difficult at work or in their personal life, spending some time in the recharge room has benefited them.

“Sometimes, those emotions come on very quickly in the form of grief and in the form of anxiety or stress,” she said. “My directors and managers say there will be staff — all levels of staff, not just nurses — that will just say, ‘I need to take a few moments.’ This is where they come where they know it’s quiet, no one will come in and say, ‘Hey, can you do this?’ It’s separated from the unit, so it’s a little bit more off the unit where they do have that quiet time.”

In workplace break rooms, it can be busy or noisy or a person can be interrupted. In the recharge room, an employee can be to themselves, and if a coworker sees them in there, they know to leave them alone.

Warren said the room came about because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to provide team members as much support as possible.

“One thing that we heard from team members and then also a suggestion from Dr. (Joyce) Spurgeon from our mental health and wellness area was that sometimes, they just need a place where they can quickly go to reset and recharge, hence the name,” she said. “The executive team was very supportive of finding a place.”

The old intensive care unit waiting room was converted into the recharge room. Warren said all of the credit goes to Volunteer Manager Amy Cockerham in terms of the decorations and furnishings.

“We just really wanted to come up with an area that would help individuals take a step out of the health care environment and in something that’s soothing and calming,” Warren said.

Cockerham said she got the idea from an article she read about a similar type of room in another hospital. She kept in mind the five senses — sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell — when determining what to include.

“Those are things that help kind of ground you and relax you,” she said.

In the article, Cockerham read that the hospital employees’ family members noticed a difference if they had stopped by the recharge room before heading home.

“It was their time and they were in a better frame of mind once they got home, not bringing the work home so much, because they had time to decompress before they came home,” she said.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was conducted during Schneck’s team member appreciation week and planned around the two-year anniversary of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We just felt like that was a good time to show more appreciation for our team members, and we had various things that week and had a ribbon cutting, as well,” Warren said.

The room is intended for employees, as a chapel and some other rooms are available for patients and families to gather if they need a place to themselves.