Michigan Medicine employees to get new ‘recharge rooms’ thanks to donors

$100K donation aims to help medical workers avoid burnout

Recharge room at Med Inn in Ann Arbor. (Michigan Medicine)

ANN ARBOR – A group of donors are hoping their newest gift to Michigan Medicine will bring some much-needed relief to its employees.

Two couples donated a total of $100,000 to University of Michigan to bring “recharge rooms” to different areas of the hospital.

Ken and Kimberly Whipple and Ken and Jeanne Levy-Church’s donations will allow for the installation of recharge rooms in C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, the Frankel Cardiovascular Center and Med Inn.

U-M Nursing has partnered with Studio Elsewhere, a firm that creates immersive, stress-reducing environments to design the rooms.

The rooms are intended to temporarily reduce stress hormones, heart rate and blood pressure through elements like relaxing music, greenery, dimmed lighting, cozy seating and tranquil imagery, according to a U-M release.

Located at CVC-5331A, MIB-626 and CW-7-231, the rooms will be open 24/7 to faculty, staff and learners.

“Michigan Medicine has made remarkable progress in the last decade to become a leader in their field, and this is evidenced in better clinical outcomes for patients,” donors Ken and Kimberly Whipple said in a statement. “The key to this success is dedicated and motivated staff.

“Being responsible for the lives of others is a big deal, so having a safe, restful place to spend even just a few minutes to revitalize is important. We hope these rooms help improve mood and job satisfaction for health care workers here, which in turn, helps create the best health outcomes for patients, too.”

According to Michigan Medicine, at least 25 percent of employees reported experiencing burnout during the pandemic. In addition to being an oasis for individual breaks, the rooms will also serve as a healing space for small group debriefs following challenging events.

On any given day, countless clinicians look for an oasis to pause, reflect and ready themselves for the next challenge,” division chief of hospital medicine at Michigan Medicine Vineet Chopra said in a statement. “Too many of us have done this outside patient care areas, call or work rooms, or in hallways without the privacy or intimacy needed for these critical moments.

“Having these rooms provides a much needed sanctuary for front line staff to decompress and regroup, and we’re so grateful to the donors and Studio Elsewhere for this opportunity.”

Even prior to the pandemic, nurses at Michigan Medicine revealed that every day stress on the job resulted in burnout in 62 percent of employees, 45 percent experiencing depression or anxiety and 43 percent feeling overwhelmed by their workload.

“Creating time to use these rooms will require support from leaders and a culture change for many staff,” chief nurse executive at Michigan Medicine Nancy May said in a statement. “It’s important these rooms are part of a larger initiative for health care workers’ wellbeing, like making schedules more flexible. I’m eternally grateful to our generous donors who have provided this timely, much needed gift to our frontline workers.”

Michigan Medicine will be the first hospital in the Midwest to implement recharge rooms for its employees. Following the first surge of COVID-19 cases, Mount Sinai Health System in New York City installed recharge rooms and health care workers who used the spaces reported a 60 percent reduction in stress.

A team from Michigan Medicine’s Department of Nursing and U-M’s School of Nursing will be conducting on the efficacy of the rooms on reducing stress, increasing resiliency and improving mental health.

The health system will use the data to inform future decisions on utilizing these rooms once the pandemic begins to slow down.

“An empirical study to learn more about how these rooms will allow health care workers to rejuvenate after great duress is compelling to us,” donors Ken and Jeanne Levy-Church said in a statement. “Hospitals should be warm, nurturing environments, both for patients and the staff that take care of them.

“This emotional, physical and mental health need has been underscored by the pandemic but the need still remains. We’re happy to help fund it.”