In early April 2020, less than one month after treating its first COVID-19 patient, Suburban Hospital opened a Resiliency Lounge in an outpatient treatment area temporarily closed to patients. The area became a calming space where nurses and other staff could refresh, de-stress, and recharge 24/7.
When the outpatient space eventually reopened to patients, nurses encouraged hospital leadership to bring back the Resiliency Lounge in another area of the hospital. The Suburban Board of Trustees and the Suburban Hospital Foundation Board reached out to resources in the community to help make a permanent space possible.
The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott (JWASM) Foundation was among the first community partners to recognize the project’s importance. Marriott International’s corporate headquarters is located in Bethesda. Mental health has long been a priority of The JWASM Foundation, including better access to services and the well-being of those who may be experiencing secondary trauma caused by the emotional toll of helping others in distress.
“This project was core to who we are as a funder to begin with, and it really resonated with us,” says Carmen Wong, a program manager who oversees The JWASM Foundation’s grant portfolio. “Taking care of those who are taking care of the people whom we’re ultimately trying to improve outcomes for was something that was very compelling, recognizing the impact of secondary trauma and ensuring that there are supports in place. And then also making sure that the supports are easily accessible.”
The now permanent Resiliency Lounge is located on the second floor of Suburban’s South Building. The hospital’s Evidence-Based Practice Nursing Council provided critical input for the layout, design, and atmosphere of the lounge. In addition to a massage chair, the space offers soothing colors, calming music, scenes from the beach, and more.
“We built this drop-in stress management space … to cope with the daily rigors of this very stressful environment of patient care,” says Susan Webb, LCSW-C/LICSW, Suburban’s director of behavioral health emergency and outpatient services, in a short video about the lounge.
Suburban’s Resiliency Lounge has become a model for other hospitals within the Johns Hopkins Health System, including The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, which is putting together plans for a similar resource. Suburban has also continued to seek other ways to support the health and well-being of its workers. In September 2020, the hospital started a Resiliency in Stressful Event (RISE) Program and trained 25 dedicated Peer Responders, who are available to provide 24/7 support for staff experiencing work-related stress. They carry a cell phone when they are on duty to respond to calls and texts from their co-workers.
“We were thrilled to hear that the Resiliency Lounge will continue and that there’s a desire to replicate it within the system,” says Mieka Wick, executive director of The JWASM Foundation. “The fact that it’s carrying on, the fact that it’s something that can grow — it ties in so beautifully to our aim, to put mental health at the center of every place and every space and acknowledge that mental health does not discriminate.”
For more on the vital role of Suburban’s nurses, see the 2020 Suburban Hospital Nursing Annual Report.
Topics: Faculty and Staff, Foundations, Friends of Johns Hopkins Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Promote and Protect Health