Health-care worker respite area opened at Calgary hospital, fundraising started for 3 more
Health-care workers at Foothills Medical Centre can now step away from the chaos of work to find a moment of respite, thanks to a dedicated space opened earlier this summer.
And fundraising is ongoing to build similar areas at three other medical facilities over the next year.
The first respite area opened at Foothills Medical Center in September, designed to get workers a breath of fresh air during hectic shifts, where they can find physical and emotional rejuvenation.
"Hospitals are a busy environment with lots of beeps and buzzing," said Mike Meldrum, president and CEO of the Calgary Health Foundation.
"(The respite projects are) done in conjunction with the staff and with the planning team there at the sites that understand the facilities, where people are going to congregate and with that objective of trying to provide a functional meaningful space for them to recharge."
The space at Foothills cost upward of $100,000. Meldrum says hospital budgets are focused on patient care, not so much on staff needs and while they have some indoor spaces for a break, there are restrictions on how many staff can be there at any given time due to COVID-19 protocols.
The Calgary Health Foundation has focused on small benefits for health-care workers during the pandemic, offering things like meals along with coffee and gift cards.
"But this is neat in that it is long-term, right?" said Meldrum. "It's something that's going to be more permanent and therefore it will be a place that hopefully health-care workers for years will come and enjoy it."
Dave Routledge is the vice-president and head of Western Canada for Oxford Properties and says the company was looking for a way to thank health-care workers for their tireless efforts on the frontline of the pandemic.
"EllisDon was really the genesis of this idea at Foothills," said Routledge. "So they developed it and then we got together in partnership with some other things that we're doing and said, 'It'd be a great idea to roll this out at all four of the hospitals in Calgary."
The benefits are massive for the more than 46,000 care providers in Calgary that include things like the reduction of stress and improvement of overall mental health, increased mental sharpness and attentiveness, enhanced creativity and problem solving and the opportunity to connect informally with multidisciplinary teams to create more collaborative environments.
The Foothills hospital respite space is getting rave reviews from staff like Joanne Haslock, who is a patient care manager with 70 staff working on the COVID ward since March 2020.
"I love it," said Haslock. "I'm often in my office from seven in the morning till four at night, and don't often see that even the sun has been shining, so to be able to come out, it's just wonderful."
She says hospital workers have always focused on patient care and their own families rather then themselves. She said no one anticipated that the pandemic would take such a toll on staff.
"People will say it's part of the job, you don't always take the time to think about what the effects are on yourself," said Haslock.
"These kinds of spaces allow you to do that, it gives you that time away from the unit. Just to actually get off the unit and spend a few minutes outside is just so much more, you're able to energize yourself, reflect and refocus."
The Calgary Health Foundation is looking to raise $250,000 to supplement contributions from Oxford and EllisDon, which is overseeing the building of sites at the Peter Lougheed Centre, South Health Campus and Rockyview General Hospital over the course of the next year.
"They can be individuals like you or I that say this is a great way to support healthcare workers," said Meldrum. "And to show them our gratitude for what they've done with a modest contribution, it all adds up to help make things like this happen."
Learn more about the fundraising campaign online.