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Compassion fatigue room at Saint Francis provides relief to caregivers

BARTLETT, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Mood lighting, a massage chair, and some fresh lavender all sound like things you’d enjoy at a day spa. At Sain...

BARTLETT, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Mood lighting, a massage chair, and some freshlavender all sound like things you’d enjoy at a day spa.

At Saint Francis Hospital in Bartlett, doctors, nurses, and othercare providers have the luxury to take advantage of these every day inside thehospital’s “compassion fatigue room.”

“It’s an area where an employee that is suffering fromcompassion fatigue can come to relax and take a small break,” said Nurse Shelly Shellenbarger.

Compassion fatigue is when a caregiver, who helps those recoverfrom trauma, experiences stress or severe exhaustion themselves. It’s somethingnurses and doctors experience on a daily basis.

Shellenbarger discovered this while doing clinical research ingrad school. She said, “I recognized that we have a high amount ofturnover of medical employees.”

She says stress is a big reason nurses and doctors walk away fromthe job, so she came up with the idea of designating a space where staff coulddecompress. 

“If you can allow them that, and provide that comfort andconnection with them, they’re able to recover from the incident and able to bemore productive,” she said. 

Nurse Wendy Washington attributes her productivity to the room.

She said, “I usually come here if I’m having a stressful dayand I need a little bit of relief.”