Hospital's 'Recharge Rooms' Help Frontline Workers Recover From Coronavirus Stress

July 23, 2020
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    Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic has added an additional layer of stress for doctors, nurses, and hospital staff.

    A new study from the University of California, San Francisco found that stress levels among ER doctors spiked from ‘moderate’ to ‘severe’ during the early days of the health crisis.

    To help frontline workers manage and recover from the added stress, one hospital in New York created something called “recharge rooms.”

    The rooms at Mount Sinai Health System offer a feeling of tranquility with their natural settings, which use plants and an imagery of a forest displayed on a screen.

    "As soon as you step in, first of all, the lighting changes so that you have this experience of being in sort of a forest or an ocean environment around dusk," Dr. David Putrino told TODAY.

    The rooms, conceived by Studio Elsewhere and the Abilities Research Center, set a calming mood using soft lights, diffusers, lanterns, and essential oils.

    Mount Sinai recharge rooms
    Photo credit Mount Sinai Newsroom

    According to the website, Dr. Putrino was informed by research on the “connection between natural environments and stress-reduction.”

    Along with the team, they “created multi-sensory experiences that can reduce stress in just 15 minutes.”

    The rooms feature beds that offer a quiet moment to focus, calming audio created by EMBC studio composer Jacob Marshall and violinist Tim Fain, and refreshments.

    “We bring in all sorts of experiences that have been shown over years of research to reduce blood pressure, decrease heart rate, reduce stress hormones in the observer. So things like having campfires tends to be really important. Things like having waterfalls and scenes of still water and things of that nature. And then in addition to what you're taking in from a visual perspective—the plants, the projections—we have brought in a phenomenal group of composers to create music experiences, again, that are founded on clinical research,” Putrino said in May.

    The “recharge rooms” have been well received by staff, who are appreciative of the focus placed on their mental health and well-being.

    "The first thing I did was I sat down in the chair, and I looked up at the tree, it was swaying," a registered nurse with the hospital told the publication, adding, "And I could feel the breeze on my arm and the crackling of the fire. It was very realistic."

    Another nurse explained: "It has settled me in the middle of a busy day.”

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