There is a new compassion-based care model that actively responds to physicians and nurses in a hospital setting. “Code Lavender” has been introduced at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio – a hospital alert for a common, but not always acknowledged threat: stress and burnout.

Hospitals have alerts in place to deal with situations that may arise – “code blue” for medical emergencies, “code red” for fire, and “code white” for behavioral disturbances to name a few.

Amy Greene, director of spiritual care at Cleveland Clinic says, “It was an idea to indicate that we were going to respond as quickly as possible to a need for intensive emotional and spiritual support. We thought originally that it would be for patients and their families, but as it turned out, we started doing them mostly for staff.” Physicians and nurses often find themselves emotionally exhausted, often after experiencing the death of one or several patients.

Within 30 minutes of a call, the Clinic’s team of holistic nurses arrives at the unit seeking need to provide Reiki and massage, water, healthy snacks, and lavender arm bands to remind the nurse or doctor to take it easy for the rest of the day. Says Greene, “Code Lavender is a holistic team approach to going up and saying, “hey, we’ve got your back.”

A 2012 national study found that almost half of all physicians experience burnout, more than any other type of American worker. Emergency care, critical care, and family medicine workers have the highest rates of burnout among health care providers.

“I love the whole concept of Code Lavender. It makes us feel appreciated and valued,” one nurse wrote in a Cleveland Clinic survey, while another nurse said, “It is helpful because it’s nice to get your stress out. It’s also good to know that our workplace feels our pain and is willing to be there for us.”

Compassion based care differs from an “old style” of medicine where , Greene says the model was to “Go, go, go, stay tough, don’t be impacted by it, keep moving. We’re seeing that this long-term is not sustainable.”

Mindfulness training is also showing to be effective in reducing burnout, and also in boosting compassion among physicians. A study recently published in the Annals of Family Medicine found that mindfulness training programs have helped physicians to feel better connected to their patients……..    huffpost health     12/2/13

 

 

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