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NEWS | April 5, 2024

Brooke Army Medical Center creates Wellness Team to address staff needs

By Jason W. Edwards Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs

Brooke Army Medical Center has stood up an ad hoc wellness team to address staff wellness needs.

Leveraging the Department of Defense’s recognized Total Force Fitness framework by the Consortium for Health and Military Performance, BAMC's Wellness Team has implemented this framework to comprehensively support optimal health and wellness initiatives for the organization.

“As healthcare providers we must remember to keep ‘health’ in healthcare,” said Army Lt. Col. Tanisha Currie, deputy chief for Nursing Science and Clinical Inquiry. “It goes with the airplane safety rules of engagement – you must first put your (oxygen) mask on in an airplane before you can take care of anyone else.”

This initiative comes at a critical time as hospitals nationwide, including the DOD’s Military Treatment Facilities, face challenges with understaffing, retention, and recruitment of healthcare providers. The stress of the current environment has led to increased burnout rates among professionals.

According to a paper written by Currie, recent research indicates that 48% of a surveyed group of 13,558 active-duty service members and civilians report feeling burned out.

Recognizing the importance of taking care of people for readiness, BAMC's adoption of the Total Force Fitness framework emphasizes a comprehensive strategy to support the health and wellness of its staff. This framework includes psychological, physical, spiritual, nutritional, financial, environmental, social, as well as medical and dental preventive fitness as its core domains. By focusing on these areas, the Wellness Team aims to create a more resilient and productive healthcare workforce.

The interdisciplinary team is comprised of 18 members including nurses, physicians, chaplains, scientists, administrators and more – all dedicated to the goal of providing diverse wellness solutions for BAMC’s nearly 9,000 staff members.

The first key initiative undertaken by the Wellness Team to address staff wellness needs was the opening of a relaxation room for healthcare staff.

The aptly named Selah Room – “selah” is a Hebrew word indicating a pause – was officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony March 25 and provides a sanctuary for members of Team BAMC to relax, decompress, and refocus. It contains three massage chairs provided by True North, a U.S. Air Force chartered mental health initiative dedicated to building resilient forces and families by providing direct, in-unit access to behavioral and spiritual care.

“Selah is a call for a break and a pause to breathe,” said Air Force Chaplain (Capt.) Colby Felton, 959th Medical Group unit chaplain. “The Selah Room gives staff the opportunity to decrease stress, replenish energy, fuel productivity, increase focus and retention, enhance creativity and improve decision making.”

The Selah Room is just the beginning for how the Wellness Team plans to continue to support Team BAMC.

The team hopes to partner with the Armed Forces Wellness Center and the Vogel Resiliency Center to bring yoga classes and portable teaching kitchens to BAMC.

“There’s a lot of great energy and excitement about investing back into our very own human capital at BAMC,” Currie said.