New Respite Room Offers Relief for UPMC Northwest Workers

UPMC Northwest Hospital has established an in-hospital room that is aimed at providing respite for health care workers.

“Imagine you enter a room that offers a glowing beach sunset, peaceful music, soft lighting, snacks, and the gentle hum of a massage chair lounger,” said Theresa Edder, executive director of the non-profit Northwest Hospital Foundation that used a private contribution to do the project.  The room was designed to help health care professionals de-stress and re-energize before returning to the daily stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Edder.

“We saw many acutely ill COVID-19 patients in the fall and winter of 2020.  Staff from across the organization were faced with challenging and demanding consecutive shifts during this unprecedented time,” said Robin Melvin, chief nursing officer/vice president for patient care services.  “Providing care under these circumstances took a mental and physical toll on our staff and care providers.”

Since its inception, the respite room has been very well received, she said.  “The first day we opened the respite room, the staff were elated-just smiling and just so excited they had an area to decompress from an incredibly stressful day,” said Melvin.  All hospital staff, one at a time, are invited to enjoy the new room, said Edder.

A sign outside the room, which is open 24 hours a day, lets staff know if it is occupied, and a sign-up sheet is available.

The next addition to the room will be a bulletin board for posting additional staff resources, such as grief counseling and faith-based support.

The room was made possible with a donation from Marilyn Ham in memory of her husband, Dr. James Ham, a well-known obstetrician from Franklin.  The physician who passed away in 2016, was philanthropic in the community and instrumental in the design and construction of the Physician’s Building at the Franklin Hospital.  Both he and his wife Marilyn, who was a nurse, had careers at the Franklin Hospital.

“We are so grateful to the foundation and to Mrs. Ham for providing the funding,” Melvin said.  “It’s been a huge win for our teams.”

Upgrade to UPMC Northwest Walking Trail

The popular walking trail is getting an upgrade to provide better access to the walkway.  The one-mile-long trail that loops around the hospital began as a mulch-covered path in 2005.  It was later converted to a gravel walk and in 2017 was rededicated when it was paved.  The Northwest Hospital Foundation led the effort to provide nearly $80,000 to the hospital to have the trail paved and entrance areas installed.

The path is used by hospital employees as well as the local community and school students, including Cranberry High School runners.

The improvements being done now near the main entranceway to the hospital will correct the grade, improve drainage and provide installed ADA mats.  The work will bring the trail into ADA compliance.

Access will also be enhanced for patients and visitors with physical challenges with the installation of more accessible curb cuts.  “Since paving the trail in 2017, the hospital has received requests from individuals with mobility limitations who would like to access the trail independently,” said Theresa Edder, executive director of the non-profit foundation.  “Together we can ensure inclusion for all who want to benefit from the trail by ensuring safe access by wheelchair, walker, cane or any other assistance device.”

Funding for the project came from the Elizabeth S. Black Charitable Trust.  Whalen Contracting is doing the work which should be completed this spring.

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