Wexner Medical Center receives over $1.4 million to develop technology to reduce work-related stress

The Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation awarded Wexner Medical Center $1.4 million for new technology to combat workplace burnout. Photo credit: Katherine Simon | lantern reporter

The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation on Wednesday awarded Wexner Medical Center, Ohio, over $1.4 million to develop new technology to reduce work-related stress and burnout.

BWC Administrator and CEO Stephanie McCloud said at Wednesday’s news conference that the study will improve wellness resources in the workplace.

“It will help support the mental and physical health of our healthcare workers by expanding wellness programs and resources within the work environment,” said McCloud.

The grant will fund the Buckeye Pause Bundle, a study using a mindfulness app, wearable biofeedback devices, and quiet rooms, Maryanna Klatt, co-principal investigator on the study, said at Wednesday’s news conference.

Klatt said the technology has shown a reduction in burnout and an increase in work engagement.

dr Carol Bradford, Dean of the College of Medicine, said at the press conference that breaks can significantly improve productivity.

“What it will really do is increase the efficiency and productivity of our entire workforce because a 5 minute break will do a tremendous job of wellbeing for that person so they can get back to work and be a very effective workforce” said Bradford.

Klatt introduced them Mindfulness in Motion program. in 2004, where groups meet and respond to questions about what gives them meaning in life. Klatt said that this program later moved online to a website and will soon become an app.

Bradford said the program offers a variety of wellbeing resources and tools.

“This eight-week program offers pragmatic resilience tools that can be easily implemented in daily life, like with an app we hear is under development to improve our own well-being and functionality while reducing the impact of chronic stress,” Bradford said.

Klatt said the wearable devices include a biofeedback ring and heart rate strap that track how relaxed a person is.

McCloud said Buckeye Pause Respite Spaces, or pods, will allow workers to take a break and relieve stress in a quiet, soundproof, and private space.

Klatt said these resting pods will feature peaceful music and “natural practices for relaxation.”

“We have mindfulness meditations, and one thing we added was some physical things that help healthcare providers protect their backs, their shoulders and all that other stuff,” Klatt said.

Catherine Quatman-Yates, Co-Principal Investigator of the Buckeye Pause Bundle, said at the press conference that the bundle will be implemented at Wexner Medical Center in January 2023 and later at other health centers and industries across Ohio.

“We’re starting with healthcare, but that’s true across a lot of different employee units — including manufacturing, where, you know, the busy environment they work in can often make it hard for them to recognize that they’re being stressed — and place finding something to go to and stop to relax because there are so many stimuli going around,” said Quatman-Yates.

McCloud said the grant is part of Gov. Mike DeWine’s challenge to keep Ohioans safe by developing technology to improve worker safety.

“I hope that some of the innovations we’re creating — including today’s — apply not only to our frontline healthcare workers, but to other large organizations where they’re experiencing burnout, especially if you’re doing your own manufacturing, where mistakes can be quite damaging or even fatal at times,” McCloud said.

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