Breathing Space

Breathing Space

There’s a new structure visible at Sechelt Hospital, and staff are calling it the Zen Den.

Physical distancing during COVID has been a particular challenge for health care staff at Sechelt Hospital who do not leave the hospital grounds when outfitted in hospital scrubs and personal protective coverings.  During a typical shift, over the course of 7.5 hours, there are very few safe spaces for staff to take breaks or to catch their breath. Enter, the Staff Wellness Zen Den, funded by a grant from the Canadian Medical Association (CMA).

In a staff survey conducted at the start of 2020, nurses and care aides were already asking for space to connect with one another, outside of the patient care corridors, but within hospital boundaries.    “Members of the nursing staff clearly asked for a place to breathe, grieve, re-group, and or cope — in a safe, onsite setting…and then Covid struck.  Staff are meeting the challenge of caring for our community during a pandemic and that brings with it an increased need to care for ourselves and our colleagues,” observed Brenda Rowe, Patient Care Coordinator with Sechelt Hospital.  As well, the need for a staff wellness space has only been amplified by the increased infection control measures brought on by the pandemic.

Taking the staff survey results and leveraging a Wellness “Triage Tent” concept from a hospital in New York City, members of the Sechelt Hospital Foundation staff and hospital leadership team set out to design a space that would support staff.  The Foundation then applied to the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Hospital Fund. As part of its commitment to provide COVID-19 relief, the CMA Foundation’s $5 million fund supports hospitals across Canada with fewer than 100 beds to meet their evolving needs with activities, equipment and training that enhance staff wellness, improve access to care and help prepare for future pandemics.

In late November, the CMA Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Hospital Fund granted $99,300 to Sechelt Hospital Foundation to support those on the frontline of this pandemic.

“I am inspired every day by the dedication of physicians, health care providers and all hospital workers as they continue to confront the COVID-19 pandemic head-on,” says Allison Seymour, CMA Foundation president. “We know these are extraordinary times that require extraordinary support. From managing evolving health care needs to address changes in your community, to ensuring the proper equipment and training for your staff, our hope is that these funds will have a positive impact as you continue to navigate the challenges of the pandemic.”

Sechelt Hospital’s Staff Wellness Zen Den launches this week. A locally sourced 330 square foot yurt was assembled by the Hospital’s Facilities and Maintenance team, as the first part of the grant utilization. Design provided by Kasa Design (Halfmoon Bay) and digital scenery by Dolf Vermuelen and the Sechelt Hospital Art Collection.