Banner Health has opened immersive “Studio Elsewhere Recharge Rooms” for hospital employees, offering private spaces with sensory-driven experiences involving relaxing music and sounds, aroma, visuals and lighting. Rooms are designed using neuroscience research to address trauma, anxiety, stress and cognitive performance.
Recharge Rooms are a restorative space for team members to relax, refocus and recharge during their breaks, lunch, and before and after shifts. The private rooms offer immersive and multisensory environments that are customizable and encourage social connection. The design and technology – which incorporates music, aromatherapy, calming visuals and sounds – uses research in neurology and psychology to address trauma, anxiety, stress and loneliness, and improve cognitive performance.
Rooms are accessible for all team members and staff with privileges at Banner Estrella Medical Center, Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa, Banner – University Medical Center Tucson, Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in Gilbert, Banner Behavioral Health Hospital in Scottsdale, Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center in Sun City West, and Banner Boswell Medical Center in Sun City, and North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley, Colorado. Over the next five years, Banner has committed to creating a minimum of 20 Recharge Rooms for Banner team members in acute hospital and ambulatory settings.
“Recharge Rooms directly confront burnout and promote wellness among all of our team members,” said Dr. Rena Szabo, a psycho-oncologist with Banner MD Anderson. “The physical and emotional well-being of our colleagues are critical to the care, comfort, and outcomes of our patients.”
A survey last year found 55% of frontline health care workers reported burnout, with the highest rate (69%) among the youngest staff, ages 18 to 29, according to Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation. A majority of all health care workers in the poll reported mental health repercussions from the pandemic.
These healing experiences can be used individually or in small groups, but Banner team members are encouraged to experience the Recharge Rooms with colleagues.
“When multiple people share the room, the ability to choose the experience sparks conversation around what different people prefer and why, which helps foster a sense of connection and community between our team members,” said Dr. Szabo.
Banner Health workers are experiencing multiple benefits after spending 5 to 10 minutes in a Recharge Room. Initial research by Mount Sinai Health System in New York and University of Michigan, Michigan Medicine, demonstrated the self-reported stress reduction for healthcare workers after 15 minutes in a Recharge Room. Banner has data that surpasses previous research in this regard. Banner team members who experience the Recharge Rooms see an average 58% drop in stress, a 38% increase in positive mood, and a 42% increase in cognitive alertness, according to surveys.
“You can change experiences at any point, from waterfalls and forests to lakes and campfires, so everyone can spend time as they prefer within their allotted time in the Recharge Room,” Dr. Szabo said.
The rooms are open around the clock. They’re designed and developed by Studio Elsewhere, a minority- and women-owned design and technology studio in New York that creates bio-experiential environments for brain health.
Most of the rooms are funded with gifts from donors and community partners to the Banner Health Foundation. The COVID-19 pandemic brought public attention to the heroic acts of health care professionals and many wanted to show their support by giving back. The Banner Gateway and Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center Medical Executive Committee also provided funding for their campus Recharge Room.
To date, Banner MD Anderson’s Recharge Room is the only one of its kind in a cancer center in the country.
DoTERRA also partnered with Banner to address science, research and implementation of the use of essential oils in the Recharge Rooms. Banner Health and doTERRA’s science and research department have been research partners since 2016.
Banner Health is one of the largest, secular nonprofit health care systems in the country. In addition to 30 acute-care hospitals, Banner also operates an academic medicine division, Banner – University Medicine, and Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, a partnership with one of the world’s leading cancer programs, MD Anderson Cancer Center. Banner’s array of services includes a health insurance division, employed physician groups, outpatient surgery centers, urgent care locations, home care and hospice services, retail pharmacies, stand-alone imaging centers, physical therapy and rehabilitation, behavioral health services, a research division and a nursing registry. To make health care easier, 100% of Banner-employed doctors are available for virtual visits, and Banner operates a free 24/7 nurse line for health questions or concerns. Patients may also reserve spots at Banner Urgent Care locations and can book appointments online with many Banner-employed doctors. Headquartered in Arizona, Banner Health also has locations in California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming.
Studio Elsewhere uses evidence-based and data-driven practices to develop virtual and physical interventions that promote brain health. They are pioneers of bio-experiential design — interactive, immersive environmental design using technology and physical design toward a healthier brain-body connection. Their embedded emerging technology solutions support the needs of healthcare professionals, researchers, patients, and caregivers. They use software and hardware development, original content, emerging technology, immersive game design, and biophilic design to reimagine the experience of health, wellness, and care. Founded and led by Mirelle Phillips, a Latina innovator in experiential design and technology, Studio Elsewhere is guided by an equitable-design model and committed to rapidly scaling innovative solutions to serve vulnerable populations. Their model allows the team to develop a first-of-its-kind technology and design practice that leads with compassion, imagination, and inclusivity.