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Saint Francis Hospital offers space for health care workers to practice self-care

Saint Francis Hospital Compassion Fatigue Room
Saint Francis Hospital Compassion Fatigue Room(Action News 5)
Published: Feb. 2, 2022 at 6:00 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 2, 2022 at 8:50 AM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Sometimes it’s nice to take a step away at work and give yourself time to breathe. That’s what one space at a Bartlett hospital allows its staff even amid staffing shortages among health care workers.

“The Compassion Fatigue Room” was created prior to the pandemic but the creator of the space says there’s been an increase in need and conversations around self-care for those who spend their career helping others.

At St. Francis Hospital Bartlett you’ll find this room. A quiet spot with a fresh scent, massage chair, a salt rock, mints and more. Shelley Shellenbarger, the creator, says the space has started much-needed conversations within the industry -- the need for self-care among health care workers. So much so that they encourage their leaders to recommend their staff if they see someone that may need a break.

“We challenge our leaders with recognizing, you know, you have to be out on the units,” said St. Francis Hospital Nursing Director Shelley Shellenbarger. “Even if you’re a leader in a hospital, you have to be out there. You have to be working with your people. You have to recognize changes, changes in people to know if they’re suffering or not. When you recognize that, then utilize the room utilize the compassion fatigue room.”

Compassion Fatigue is a syndrome any health care worker can experience. After long hours or a traumatic situation, it encompasses the stress suffered during high-intensity situations, mentally and physically.

“They all embrace the fact that they provide care to patients, and they want to heal them,” said Shellenbarger. “So what we saw is that they were more vocal, they knew we had something that would assist them. And they would actually come to us as leaders and say, Can I step away?”

She hopes more hospitals created spaces like this for their staff and says it’s one way to give back to the employees.

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