By Jen Rodriguez (Brooke Army Medical Center)May 15, 2009
(FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas) -- A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held April 30 at Brooke Army Medical Center for the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research's Tranquility Room, which specializes in caring for the caregiver.
Brig. Gen. James Gilman, commanding general, Great Plains Regional Medical Command and BAMC; Col. Kathryn Gaylord, director of the Provider Resiliency Program; USAISR Commander Col. Lorne Blackbourne and Col. Kimberly Smith, chief nurse of USAISR Burn Center, joined together to open the doors of a room geared towards helping staff to enhance relaxation and decrease stress.
"Sooner or later, the love of work begins to tell on you," said Gilman. "When we show concern for our staff; it enables them to be better at warrior service."
Developed over a nine-month period at BAMC, the Tranquility Room is one piece of the 'Caring for the Caregiver' Provider Resiliency Program.
"The intent of the program is to provide interventions to assist the clinical staff with stress management," said Gaylord. "The outcome of taking care of the caregiver is to decrease compassion fatigue and burnout, while increasing compassion satisfaction.
"Research has demonstrated that providing a better work environment will increase retention, decrease burnout and increase patient care and satisfaction. The long-term goal is better patient outcomes," she said.
Blackbourne explained there's a concern at the Army Medical Department Center and School for the people working here through trying times.
"It starts to wear down on you through the days, months and years. We wanted to get the people back to provide the best possible care," he said. "We want to make sure that we optimize the care of the wounded warriors and the civilians who care for them."
Smith said the room is dedicated to caregivers; everyone who works so hard to take care of our warriors.
Since the war started, compassion fatigue has been recognized throughout the Medical Command military training facilities, said Gaylord.
"Army Medical Department Center and School was given the task of training, and USAISR was given the grant to develop a program that could be copied for all AMEDD staff," she said.
In the past, staff members seeking relaxation, went to a staff psychiatric clinical nurse specialist that USAISR had for three years. The nurse specialist provided education, counseling and referral for staff members.
In September 2007, a request for ideas was sent to all regional medical centers for program proposals to treat compassion fatigue, during Maj. Gen. Gale Pollock's tenure as acting Surgeon General. Research revealed that big businesses such as Google, Nike and Honda had similar programs.
"The USAISR team put together a proposal with several options," said Gaylord. "We were selected and given a grant to create the Process Improvement Program, which began Oct. 1, 2007. The project complements the Provider Resiliency Training Program instituted by the Army Medical Department Center and School."
Additional funding for the completion of the room was provided by MEDCOM and supporters of Operation Comfort, a local nonprofit organization with a primary focus of helping wounded servicemembers and their Families at BAMC.
The first of its type in a military training facility, the Tranquility Room incorporates lighting, sound and movement to create a tranquil atmosphere. The walls, ceiling and floor are painted dark brown. Stones at the base of the wall symbolize a river. Aromatherapy and battery operated candles also create a sense of relaxation.
A Symmetron chair moves in waves, synchronized with binaural music. There is also a massage chair, a waterfall, and a TV with specialized relaxation tapes. The highlight of the room is the blue glass lighted wall that resembles water.
Although, the original grant was intended to create a program for the clinical burn staff of the USAISR; multidisciplinary clinical burn staff have priority over using the Tranquility Room. Additionally, USAISR staff working in the research building and BAMC staff may use the room by appointment only. Persons are limited to eight to 10-minute sessions.
The tranquility room is the perfect compliment to the whole program, said Gaylord.