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Sometimes even heroes need a break … a chance to slow down, take a breath, gather their wits and quiet the noise around them. Now IU Health’s frontline healthcare heroes have places where they can do exactly that, thanks to those who gave to to IU Health Foundation’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund.
Aimed at addressing the emotional well-being of IU Health team members, the $95,000 grant supports the development and resourcing of “Tranquility Spaces” in each of the IU Health hospitals. These spaces provide a place for team members to step away from their work and rest; rejuvenate and care for themselves in ways that will give them the strength, energy and focus to continue to care for patients.
“I think it’s the ‘healthcare hero’ mentality to think you shouldn’t need a break,” said IU Health Chief Learning Officer Christina Chapman. “This is our way of saying, ‘It’s okay to take a break, and we want you to.’”
Modeled after best practices established by Norwood Health, the tranquility spaces, which were designed and executed in a matter of weeks, provide settings for a range of nurturing activities, including one-to-one counseling and peer connections, mind and body well-being activities, spiritual support, self-care resources and services, and creative outlets.
Although the Tranquility Spaces were launched as a system-wide program, each region has been empowered to execute the concept in the way that best fits its culture, facilities and creativity. Some hospitals have rooms with recliners, special lighting and other amenities that support a sense of escape and respite. Others take resources to team members via “compassion carts,” that move throughout the facility with water, snacks and resources for creative “brain-break” exercises, while others set up tables with tools that can help team members find a “creative outlet” or spiritual boost.
Regardless of the form it takes, the concept has been well-received. “We saw gratitude immediately,” Chapman said, adding that when she went into one facility to set up a table with emotional-support resources, a team member stopped to thank her before she was even finished. Senior Organizational Development Consultant Lindsey Sorensen shared a similar anecdote: when she was setting up a table in another facility, a team member who is not even involved in the program stopped to help. “This shows how this is encouraging team members to live out our values,” Sorenson said. “It shows our values in action.”
While the program was developed in response to the COVID-19 crisis, aspects of it will continue well after the crisis has passed, Chapman said, in recognition of the fact that frontline health workers can benefit from emotional support in all times. After all, even after the pandemic has passed, those workers will still be heroes … and sometimes even heroes need a break.