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.”

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