LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – After a challenging year and a half, the healthcare heroes of UAMS now have a way to relax and take a breath in the middle of a busy workday; a “rejuvenation room” dedicated to frontline workers.
The space is set right in the middle of UAMS hospital in an old ICU sleeper room meant for caregivers and families. Now, it’s one of the few dark and silent spaces on campus, the ultimate break for medical experts who desperately need one.
For nurses like Tiffany Clarke, a respiratory therapist at the hospital, the effects of the virus stretch beyond the workplace.
“Lots of family members [were] sick,” Clarke said. “I lost my dad to it.”.
The pandemic has been a challenge for everyone at the medical center, with many unable to escape the stress of their units until the end of the day.
But thanks to donations and community partners organized by the UAMS medical center auxiliary, among the constant calls for help is a sigh of relief.
The rejuvenation room opened only a week ago but has already drawn curious and exhausted nurses to its door. Shelly Ward, an ICU float nurse, says, “it gives us this private place to breathe.”
The room is currently reserved for frontline healthcare workers who are involved in the direct care of patients. Organizer Jennifer Huie with volunteer services says she hopes it, assists nurses and doctors, at the end of their rope who need a moment to recenter themselves.
“[They] take a breather and kind of forget about what they’re doing,” Huie explained.
Some use the room as their final stop at work, a way to decompress and relax before heading home for the day. Others drop by during a break in the chaos, no matter how short.
“I was trying to help someone go by, take a bed to the other ICU units,” Ward explains, “and I thought, ‘I have two minutes to stretch’.”
The room is also the site of weekly special events as part of “Wellness Wednesdays”, including therapy dogs, spa grab bags, coloring books, and massage chairs.
So far, there is only one rejuvenation room on campus, but Huie hopes more can be added even after COVID to further help employees.
“We’re looking at other areas of the hospital that will be able to take these resources and continue this respit area,” Huie explained.
UAMS also offers their nurses and doctors other resources to cope with the pandemic, including therapy recommendations, helplines, and bonuses.