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Mindful Meditation for SCH Employees

 

Close your eyes, take a deep breath and let the stress melt away. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Throughout the year, SCH’s Mindful Meditation Initiative (MMI) offers monthly meditation courses to teach participants how to practice meditation as well as how it can be integrated into their daily lives.  Each 30-minute class includes guided meditation instruction, support and resources for practicing medication outside of class. Studies show that meditation can not only decrease stress, anxiety and depression but can reduce inflammation, pain and the effects of trauma to the body.  In addition, meditation can have a dramatic impact on a person’s job performance, by improving problem solving abilities, creativity, short-term memory, and tolerance.

The initiative was created in 2018 at the request of the SCH’s Physicians Advisory Board who were looking for innovative methods to prevent and treat staff burn-out and increase patient satisfaction.  An 8-week pilot course was developed in response. The pilot MMI included a weekly schedule of 30-minute meditation classes scheduled throughout the day. Four different types of meditation were taught, and participants were encouraged to attend at least 2 classes per week while continuing the practice on their own.

Staff feedback from the MMI pilot was overwhelmingly positive. Staff members reported benefits such as increased patience, sense of calm, resilience and focus, reduced anxiety and blood pressure and an increased ability to find calm in moments of stress.  As some of the participants explain:

After six weeks of classes, mediation has allowed me to slow down, especially when things start spiraling out of control. It has also enabled me to fall asleep faster. L. B., Access Services

A meditation break allows me a renewed focus on my work; it helps me focus on my thoughts and allows me to feel positive throughout the day. Meditation has helped me with my blood pressure. It used to fluctuate throughout the day, but it is now back to normal. A. A., MSO Coding

These sessions helped me immensely with just relaxing and emptying my mind. I have become more adept at meditating now thanks to the program.
-G. S., Legal Affairs

After participating in the meditation class I have seen measurable changes in my blood pressure, sleep quality and overall level of calm. I have signed up for additional classes because the first was so helpful. -Y. S., Wound Care

Working in a hospital can be a chaotic environment. The class allows me to focus my thoughts on the present and be in the moment. In order to deliver the best outcomes for my patients, I must be attentive and responsive to their needs, and not allow my focus to stray to other issues that I may be juggling in the course of my work day. These medication classes allow me to stay focused and perform at a higher level for my patients.
-E. O., Occupational Therapy

Meditation makes me more aware of my breathing and provide me with a sense of calm. In a hospital setting we are often engaged with patients at a difficult moment in their life. If we enter in a state of calm, we are more likely to be the kind of presence that a patients needs in the moment and less likely to absorb the patient’s distress in unhealthy ways.
-K. L., Women’s Health Center

Due to the success of the 8-week pilot course and the growing interest among other hospital staff members (including the Trauma Informed Work Group and nursing leadership), SCH’s Foundation Board provided funding to expand the MMI to a year-round program, free and accessible, to all employees.  This expanded program will not only benefit the participating SCH staff member but the patients with whom they interact.  As Kayla Kulans, Wellness Program Manager explains, “The aim of SCH’s Mindful Meditation Initiative is to not only bring this highly beneficial practice to individual employees but to create a staff community that is more focused, resilient, patient and mindful.”  To learn more about the Foundation’s other donor-funded programs or how you can donate and make a difference, please contact us at: foundation@swedishcovenant.org or (773) 293-5121 

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Bequest Gift from Alyce Chrystall Supports Nurses

 

Alyce loved to help. Whether it was assisting on her Father’s cattle ranch or caring for her seven brothers and sisters, Alyce felt she was put on this Earth to serve others. It’s only natural then, that after her passing, Alyce is still making a difference in the lives of others. Thanks to the generosity of Alyce five SCH nurses working toward their advanced degrees have been awarded an Alyce B. Chrystall Scholarship to help defray their education costs.

As a little girl growing up on a large cattle ranch in Nebraska, Alyce was known as the caring one of the family; she would often tend to sick animals or help her parents care for her seven siblings. According to Karin, it was Alyce’s nurturing nature that prompted her older brother to pay for her to attend nursing school in Minnesota when she was only 18 years old.  Alone and determined, Alyce graduated from the Swedish Hospital School of Nursing with the dream of serving others and helping those in need.

Nursing was Alyce’s calling, which inspired her career and volunteer choices throughout her life.  Over her 40-year career, she practiced clinical and surgical nursing, worked as I.V. Therapist, an Industrial Nurse, and Personal Secretary, opened an Employee Health Clinic and worked for the Visiting Nurses Association. She retired from the nursing field at age 65, but stayed active by volunteering her time and energy to faith-based, service and social organizations well into her 80’s.

It was Alyce’s mission to serve and care for people.  Karin recounts that Alyce, “…was led by her faith and walked in in great humility and unconditional love for everyone she met. She found the good in all things.” As an act of her lasting generosity and compassion, Karin continued Alyce’s legacy of excellence in nursing and service by establishing the Alyce B. Chrystall Scholarship at Swedish Covenant Health. Karin was impressed with SCH’s active Nurse Alumnae Association and their strong commitment to nursing education scholarships, our continued support of staff professional development, and our affiliation with North Park University’s School of Nursing.  As Karin explains, “Nursing was the heart of Alyce; it defined her. Creating scholarships to help others become nurses was what Alyce would have wanted. I knew SCH  was the place.”

The 5 winners of the Alyce B. Chrystall Scholarship are: Colleen Jennings, OB Charge Nurse, Sommar Johnson, RN, BSN, CCRN , Dane Ligas, BSN, Bianca Pirvu, BSN and Gerelmaa Budmandakh, MSN

To the recipients of Alyce’s generosity, the scholarships are life-changing. According to Sommar Johnson, “This has changed my life and decreased my financial stress. Now I can focus more on school and work. I hope to one day give back and provide someone with the same opportunity I was given.” Colleen Jennings agrees. Feeling humbled and honored to be a recipient, she notes that “this scholarship will allow me to finish my BSN.  It has been a long process due to financial reasons and I will forever be grateful for this opportunity.  I hope to make Alyce Chrystall proud.” Karin awarded the scholarships during a ceremony in May, at which time she commented that it was Alyce’s wish to make a lasting impact on the nursing profession.  Her generous act of assisting five nurses obtain advanced degrees and certifications will better the healthcare of thousands of future patients. For more information on ways to support the scholarship program at SCH, please contact the Foundation at: foundation@SwedishCovenant.org or (773) 293-5121 

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