FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Nurses care for patients every day, but they often need to be cared for too. That’s where the Holistic Response Team (HRT) at Parkview Regional Medical Center comes in. It’s a rapid response team of nurses that will come to the aid of an employee in crisis.
“They see our lavender scrubs coming down the hall and we bring that peace to them,” Carolyn Meyer, the coordinator for the Holistic Response Team, said. ” They know that we can bring that positive energy into a negative situation and we’ll just stop and say, ‘Okay. Take 30 seconds. Do some deep breathing.’ We’ll remind them they have to take care of themselves to take care of their patients and their family.”
There are 28 nurses on the Holistic Response Team. They still work in their usual units, but will then do extra shifts to work on the wellbeing of their coworkers. Right now, the team is on duty from 9 am to 9 pm Monday through Friday, but the hope is to expand that.
“Doing this has been a support to me. My first year of nursing, like most nurses, was very hard,” Breann Hartman said.
Hartman’s been a nurse for three years. She works in the inpatient Oncology Unit and has also been on the Holistic Response Team for two and a half years.
“It’s saved me on both ends,” she said. “It was my first code ever. A patient’s heart stopped and we had to intervene pretty heavily. The patient ended up getting whisked to ICU, but I felt the need to just come back and put a smile on my face to be there for the other patients and one [HRT] rounder was there to just say, ‘Take a second. It’s okay. Let’s take care of you first so when you go in there, that smile is authentic.’ And that made a big difference,” Hartman said.
The care for the caregivers takes many forms. Sometimes it’s just talking.
“I have no idea how you feel, but I can tell you how I felt six years ago when that happened to me,” Meyer said.
Sometimes it’s a hand or shoulder massage. Sometimes it’s just a piece of candy or a granola bar.
“Even just knowing someone’s there. Even if you can’t take the time right then, knowing someone came around and someone’s caring [is comforting],” Hartman said.
Meyer has been a nurse for 25 years and she started the program at Parkview in 2017. But, with the ongoing pandemic, it’s needed now more than ever.
“Our ICU nurses never fully recovered from the first surge and with the influx of patients coming in again, their days and nights never end,” Meyer said. “They’re exhausted.”
Right now the program is just at PRMC. Meyer would like to expand it to Parkview Randallia and Parkview Behavioral Health, the community hospitals and eventually the patients.
Watch the video below to hear Meyer describe an experience when she was able to bring the holistic care her team uses on nurses to a patient.
“As a nurse you’re giving, giving, giving and don’t expect to get. So, at first it’s hard, especially for our travel nurses coming in, to get a back massage while they chart. But we help them understand that, ‘Hey. It’s okay. I can take the two minutes to have that comfort so I can provide better care for the next person,'” Hartman said.
The Holistic Response Team services the entire hospital staff – from doctors to lab technicians to pharmacists to the environmental services team, which cleans rooms and other high-contact areas.
“They have a really hard job and it’s exhausting and they don’t always feel valued and important. So, if we can just say, ‘Hi. How are you doing today? Want a hand massage, or some candy or a KIND bar for later?'” Meyer said.
Caregivers, caring for caregivers. One massage – or chocolate bar – at a time.
“We’ve saved people from leaving the profession and what a different we can make,” Meyer said.