Gritman room gives nurses place to rest, rejuvenate

Shelly Nichols, a registered nurse and director of Gritman Medical Center's critical care and medical/surgical units, sits in a private "meditation and calming" space created at the Moscow facility by one of Gritman's nurses.

As Gritman Medical Center staff endure the difficult mental and emotional toll of caring for patients in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, an anonymous employee wanted to do something special for her fellow nurses.

So, she designed and decorated a room at the hospital with the simple purpose of giving her co-workers a place to find much-needed peace, even for a moment.

Shelly Nichols, a registered nurse and director of Gritman's critical care and medical/surgical units, described it as a place where nurses can go to meditate, cry, laugh, read and be alone.

Editor's note: The previous paragraph was altered from the original version to accurately represent Nichols' title.

“It’s really designed to be kind of a quiet rejuvenating space,” Nichols said.

This anonymous nurse first tested this idea in another room a month ago. Nichols, who saw the project’s value, gave her a bigger, more private room on the second floor.

The new room is located near the hospital’s COVID-19 care unit, said Gritman spokesman Peter Mundt. It is filled with bean bag chairs, books, puzzles, journals, plants and a view of the outside.

It may not seem like much, but Nichols said having a place where nurses can go to take a deep breath, disconnect from their work for a few minutes and look at something other than medical equipment makes a world of a difference.

“It kind of just stops the cycle,” she said.

Nichols said the nurse who designed the room came up with the idea after seeing how much stress her coworkers were under while they tackled the challenges of COVID-19. As nurses work their 12-hour shifts, the job can become emotionally exhausting and leave employees feeling burned out, Nichols said.

Nichols said this space offers a different setting than the employees’ break room, which is typically used for eating meals or congregating with other staff members. Instead, it is supposed to be a quiet environment where people are able to decompress.

Nichols said the room is already popular among the staff. Every time she walks by, Nichols notices somebody either using the room or just leaving.

She said the hospital will hold a contest to decide what to name the room, and the winner will receive a gift card.

Health officials on Thursday reported another death related to COVID-19 in Latah County.

The deceased is a man in his 60s, according to Public Health - Idaho North Central District. There have been 24 total deaths related to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic in Latah County.

Eleven new COVID-19 cases were reported in the county. They include one person between ages 13-17, one person between ages 18-29, five people in their 30s, one person in their 40s, two in their 60s and one in their 80s.

There have been 3,779 confirmed cases and 232 probable cases in Latah County since the start of the pandemic.

Gritman announced Thursday, five patients with COVID-19 were admitted for inpatient care in the past week.

The hospital has admitted 57 people who tested positive for the virus since June 1. Forty-seven of those patients were unvaccinated.

Whitman County on Thursday reported 20 new confirmed cases and three new hospitalizations. There have been 14 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the county in the past three days.

In Whitman County, there have been 5,337 confirmed cases, 55 deaths and 179 hospitalizations since the beginning of the pandemic.

In accordance with orders from the Idaho Supreme Court, Latah County District Court will not start new jury trials between Monday and Dec. 6 as a COVID-19 precaution. Existing trials or grand juries may be allowed to continue.

Additionally, most court hearings will be held online and masks are required at the Latah County Courthouse.

Kuipers can be reached at akuipers@dnews.com.

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