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At Scottsdale Healthcare Tranquility Room offers respite to caregivers

Wednesday April 30, 2014
Marialena Murphy, RN
Marialena Murphy, RN
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When nurses and other staff at Scottsdale (Ariz.) Healthcare are having a particularly challenging day, they know relief is as close as the hospital’s Tranquility Room. Launched in 2011, and painted in a soothing green color, the room provides staff with a quiet space for meditation and reflection.

Marialena Murphy, RN, MSN, MSHA, CNOR, director of perioperative services, said the room already has had an impact on stress reduction. In 2009, Murphy completed the Watson Caring Science Institute’s Caritas Coach Educational Program, and became a licensed trainer for the HeartMath Transforming Stress workshops, both programs that emphasize caring for the caregivers.

“One of the theories of Dr. Jean Watson, who founded the Watson Caring Science Institute emphasizes is self-care,” Murphy said. “I started to look at ways that we might encourage nurses to take a few minutes during the day to recharge and rejuvenate.”

Murphy explained how she and her colleagues transformed an underutilized room in the hospital into a tranquility room, adding a chair with a back massager, soothing music, a gratitude book and a computer that features HeartMath, a program that helps staff bring their physical, mental and emotional systems back into balanced alignment.

After employees have been trained in HeartMath workshops, the company’s emWave 2 technology can be accessed on the computer in the tranquility room to help regulate stressful feelings and to build personal resilience.

“It’s hard to be caring if you’re in a constant state of stress,” said Murphy, noting that Scottsdale Health is a level 1 trauma center. “The tranquility room offers a respite from ambulance sirens, overhead codes and everyday stresses.” •


The Tranquility Room at Scottsdale Healthcare.
(Photo courtesy of Scottsdale Healthcare)
Nurses embrace the opportunity for self-care

Tranquility rooms such as the one at Scottsdale Healthcare are emerging at hospitals across the country, offering nurses a break from their patient and family care schedules.

In taking advantage of the tranquility room, Marialena Murphy, RN, MSN, MSHA, CNOR, director of perioperative services, said caregivers also are being encouraged to care for themselves.

“Sometimes it’s hard to remember that we actually have control of our lives and the ability to take the time to relax when we need it,” said Nancy Hudson, RN, operating room supervisor at Scottsdale Healthcare. “It’s nice to have a place to go to get away from the constant overstimulation a workday can bring, and as a supervisor I’m happy to have a place to send staff when they need a break.”
Murphy said quiet time is something that is regularly encouraged among nursing staff and staff are urged to use the tranquility room to clear their mind, meditate, or just take time to surrender their iPhones, pagers and stethoscopes for a few minutes.

Lynn Scalise, RN, clinical director of Inpatient Preoperative Services at Scottsdale Health, is one of many fans of the tranquility room, and often encourages colleagues to take some time to retreat there after a difficult day.

“I love that this sanctuary is available to use,” Scalise says. “It’s absolutely transformative, and provides a place for insight.”

HeartMath provides solace for the soul

Realizing hospital staff face unequalled stress, a company called HeartMath is working with healthcare organizations to help employees optimize their health, mood, emotional state and decision-making.

Marialena Murphy, RN, MSN, MSHA, CNOR, director of perioperative services at Scottsdale Healthcare, went through the HeartMath training in 2009, and the hospital now has seven trainers who teach the stress management program.

“We have held hundreds of HeartMath workshops for staff, starting with our nurse managers, and teaching how to manage stress using the HeartMath tools and technology,” Murphy said. “A survey given to workshop participants two weeks later showed a sharp decrease in insomnia related to stress, as well as increased peacefulness.”

A computer program called enWave2 reinforces the techniques taught in HeartMath workshops. It allows nurses and other staff to use the computer in the tranquility room to objectively monitor their heart rhythms and display the physiological level of coherence — an optimal state in which the heart, mind and emotions are operating in sync and in balance.


Linda Childers is a freelance writer. Post a comment below or email editorWest@nurse.com.