Advocate Children’s Hospital
Advocate Children’s Hospital, with campuses in Oak Lawn and Park Ridge, is a national leader in pediatric care. Recognized by U.S. New & World Report as one of the best hospitals in the nation for cardiology and heart surgery, patients come from around the world to take advantage of the innovative care at Children’s.
“The term ‘a matter of life or death’ is often a cliché. But in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), it’s a reality,” said Jerry Zimmerman, PhD, MD, and president of the Society of Critical Care Medicine, speaking at a February conference as reported by MedPage Today. “While we can’t eliminate the reality of a stressful work environment, we can create ICUs that are more nurturing and supportive.”
And that is just want Rosanna Trahey, MBA, BSN, RNC-NIC, did. As manager of clinical operations for the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Advocate Children’s Hospital-Oak Lawn, she has brought a hush over the place—at least from 2 to 4 pm every day. It’s called quiet time.
The idea came about after her jarring welcome as head of the unit in October 2012. “We had 14 patients die in three months, including one on my very first day,” she explained. “I immediately observed how it brought morale down.”
Thus began quiet time, but her efforts didn’t stop there.
“We dim the lights,” she said, “and we try to decrease the interruptions for our patients. That’s a great time for the nurses and staff to decompress as well.” It has since been adopted throughout the hospital.
Commandeering a room usually used for family conferences, she arranged for volunteers on her own staff to give their fellow nurses five-minute hand massages during quiet time, which was a big hit.
Getting to the core of the issue, however, was resiliency training. It started as “resiliency rounds” during quiet time, when nurses could meet with a physician and a chaplain to discuss issues in the unit. “The purpose wasn’t to problem solve—although we did try to solve some of the problems that were brought up—but the purpose was to express our feelings and cope with those feelings and concerns,” Trahey said. “We could go home and feel, ‘Oh, there are other people who are feeling the same way. It’s not just me.’”
Realities of the ICU, however, have encroached on the time for those sessions, Trahey explained, so chaplains have stepped in to build on the effort.
Perhaps the biggest outreach is called Vital Hearts, funded through a grant from the Prince Charitable Trusts. The 3-day Vital Hearts training is an intensive, experiential learning program designed for staff who are vulnerable to compassion fatigue, and secondary traumatization due to frequent exposure to emotional trauma on the job. The course teaches that when personal and professional stress converge, caregivers may lose the ability to interpret what the patient is experiencing or communicating. Training emphasizes that caregivers must learn how to let go of their “attachment to the outcome” of work to stay in the moment with every patient, and to accept that some outcomes cannot be predicted.
By having programs like Vital Hearts and leadership-sanctioned “protected time,” nurses can utilize the tools they learn and support one another.
After all, a hand massage is great, but a massage for the soul lasts longer.