Canadian Medical Association

One year in, health care workers continue to grapple with the stress and anxiety that comes with caring for patients during a pandemic. Providing space where staff can recharge, while also staying socially distant, is one way to help people cope. The need for such a refuge is what led to the creation of the Zen Den at a community hospital on BC’s Sunshine Coast.  

“It’s a serene oasis,” said Jane Macdonald, executive director of the Sechelt Hospital Foundation. “It offers them a chance to de-stress during breaks and before or after shifts.”

The tent — a yurt, to be exact — features comfy chairs, music and aromatherapy; it’s a welcome reprieve from the cramped and hectic 64-bed hospital. Even before COVID, the Sechelt Hospital was running overcapacity, serving a community of 32,000 with the second largest cohort of seniors in the province.

Macdonald said that along with stress reduction, the tent will help with staff recruitment and retention.

The CMA Foundation established the $5-million COVID-19 Community Hospital Fund to help hospitals with fewer than 100 beds. More than 80 hospitals across Canada received funding for renovations, equipment, wellness supports and other initiatives. Learn more.

The program — funded through the COVID-19 Community Hospital Fund — is just one of many ways hospitals across Canada are addressing burnout:

Infographic showing five hospitals across Canada implementing different wellness support programs. At Sechelt Hospital, staff created a staff wellness tent to decompress and socially distance. At Castlegar and District Community Health Centre in BC, staff upgraded the staff room to help address pandemic fatigue. At Sheep River Health Trust in Okotoks, Alta., staff added mental health and spiritual supports. Ontario’s Hanover and District Hospital Funded implemented mental health training for staff to support psychological health and safety in the workplace. Hawksbury and District General Hospital was able to support a service launched at the start of the pandemic giving employees access to qualified mental health professionals.

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