Taking care of others is routine for the caregivers at Mercy Health – Springfield Regional Medical Center and Urbana Hospital. However, there are times when the burden of responsibility that the role carries becomes too much for even the most seasoned health care professional.
Bobby Parrett, director of rehabilitation services with Mercy Health, remembers a personal experience where the nurse treating his family became emotionally attached and exhibited the same pain and anguish as they were experiencing.
“The connection the nurse had with my family in such a short period stuck with me. When I was part of the 2019 class of emerging leaders at Mercy Health, we wanted to find a way we could do something for our staff to ensure they have an outlet for emotional health,” he says.
The class proposed the creation of lavender rooms. In 2004, a doctor first used the term Code Lavender in relation to a program that cared for patients and their families. It soon came to stand for a program that helps restore the emotional, spiritual and physical well-being of caregivers, too.
“When there is a time of great need for the staff, for example following a mass casualty event, the sudden death of staff member or the death of infant, a lavender room is a place where employees can go when they need time off the floor,” says Parrett.
Mercy Health opened three lavender rooms at Springfield Regional Medical Center and one at Urbana Hospital. The rooms are dedicated spaces for destressing, resetting and are available to all associates. Painted in calming colors, they feature comfortable recliners, dim lighting, aromatherapy, soft music, journals, informational boards featuring details on how to contact support resources.
“When a situation that impacts the hospital staff occurs, the hospital’s Spiritual Care team will be called for assistance,” says Parrett.
Once the impacted team has gathered in one of the lavender rooms, Spiritual Care team members are available to speak with and support staff. A critical incident stress debriefing team will facilitate a group discussion of their experience of the incident and its aftermath. Early interventions like this can help teams recover from grief by providing group support and linking employees to further counseling and treatment services if needed. The rooms are also available as a place for caregivers to destress even if a formal code has not been called.
“These lavender rooms send three signals to the entire staff, loud and clear: This work is stressful. You have needs that we recognize. We can provide resources to help,” says Parrett.
These rooms would not have been possible without the generosity of Value City Furniture, which donated eight recliners for the lavender rooms through the Mercy Health – Foundation of Clark and Champaign Counties.
“The nurses and doctors at Mercy Health have gone above and beyond the call of duty this past year, and it’s our honor to support these individuals through this donation,” said Jonathan Schottenstein, president, Value City Furniture, Designer Looks. “We know the important role these lavender rooms will play in allowing frontline caregivers a much-needed space for moments of reprieve and solitude throughout the ongoing pandemic. It is our hope that this contribution creates an inviting environment and makes a lasting, positive impact in the lives of these vital staff members.”
Submitted by Mercy Health.