By Jennifer Rogers
The stress of being a frontline worker during the pandemic has impacted us all – whether you are a doctor having to deliver the news of yet another patient passing from COVID-19 or a member of the housekeeping staff worried she is being exposed at work and bringing the virus home to her family. It has taken its toll on all of us.
In Fall 2020 the SBH Workforce Wellness Committee was formed and began meeting to discuss these issues and find resources that could be brought to staff. These resources focused on things like managing stress, coping with anxiety, forming support groups, learning how to leave work at work, and dealing with grief and loss. The committee has since developed three tools to help SBH employees cope a bit better and do a better job at managing their stress. Our plan is to start with these three resources and add from there. We meet on a weekly basis and will open up a meeting a month for staff to attend and bring their suggestions, comments, ideas, etc. so we can get feedback from frontline workers.
To start things off, the committee has opened a staff Recharge Room. This was made possible through a grant from the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) and is hosted by a company called Studio Elsewhere. It is the first of its kind in New York City. The room is located on 1 North in what was previously the Lactation Room (which has been moved inside the Maternity Pavilion).
Staff sign up for a recharge experience of anywhere from 8 – 25 minutes. They can choose from a variety of settings including alpine snow, beach at sunset, mountain views, waterfalls, etc. The experience consists of a guided experienced aimed at lowering stress levels. This has been tested in a variety of settings with participants showing on average a 60 percent decrease in stress levels after a 15-minute experience.
The committee is also hosting a series of support groups and informational sessions via TEAMS. These groups are held the first Wednesday of every month from noon – 1pm. Group topics will include managing stress and anxiety while on the job, grief and loss, spirituality and many more. You can choose to join anonymously and just listen to the moderator or fully interact. The moderator will also be available to link staff to additional resources if needed.
The wellness committee has also developed an end-of-day checklist designed to help staff leave work at work and get ready to go home. It is a step-by-step guide on how to decompress from your day and help you leave the stress behind so you can fully engage in your home life.
Lastly, in an effort to help staff think about wellness, we have asked them to submit photos of “what wellness looks like to me.” This could be a picture of a calming sunset, running in the park, playing with your pet. We encourage these pictures to be posted on the Health and Wellness page on Workplace. Selected pictures will be displayed throughout the hospital.
The committee is constantly on the lookout for additional ideas to support the health and wellness needs of staff during this difficult time.