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OSU Wexner Medical Center awarded state grant for workforce safety

Study participant Kerry Lammers takes a moment to relax in a respite space, part of Wexner Medical Center's "Buckeye Pause Bundle" research project.
Wendy Pramik
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
Study participant Kerry Lammers takes a moment to relax in a respite space, part of Wexner Medical Center's "Buckeye Pause Bundle" research project.

The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) has awarded The Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center and College of Medicine with a nearly $1.5 million grant for advancing the hospital system's workforce safety and wellness innovations.

BWC’s Workforce Safety Innovation Center (WSIC) provided the grant for the research and development of new, innovative personal protective equipment (PPE) and personal protective technology (PPT) for Ohio workers employed in various fields including first responders, manufacturing, agriculture and other sectors requiring additional protection while on the job.

“We want to do all we can to keep Ohioans safe while they’re on the job,” Governor Mike DeWine said in a statement. “This grant is integral to our mission of creating innovative materials and technologies to protect Ohio’s workforce, so they make it home safe and uninjured at the end of each day.”

Acute care hospital workers are exposed to high levels of physical pain and mental stress.

The state funds will support Wexner Medical Center's Buckeye Pause Bundle: Augmenting State of Mind and Body as the Ultimate PPE. Think of the research project as a "bundle" of wellness interventions designed to reduce burnout.

The study is co-led by Maryanna Klatt, director of Integrative Medicine and professor of Family and Community Medicine at OSU. Klatt has developed a mind-body exercise prompting system she calls "Mindfulness in Motion."

“Our system pushes personalized prompts to a study participant’s cell phone to encourage them to pause and engage in mind-body protective exercises based on reaching a given threshold of physiological readings from a wearable biofeedback device," she said.

Participants wear an electronic ring that tracks biometrics such as heart rate variability, respiration rate, and sleep quality, Klatt said.

Klatt's team has also developed soundproof mind-body exercise respite pods. Four such pods are spread out across the hospital system.

Study participant Kerry Lammers said the pods give clinicians a place to go to focus on themselves.

"So they can refill their cup, take a break from the noise from all the chaos of healthcare and really be able to provide better patient care by centering themselves and reducing their own stress throughout the day," Lammers said.

About 135 clinical workers are expected to participate in the study by July 2023, Klatt said.

Matthew Rand is the Morning Edition host for 89.7 NPR News. Rand served as an interim producer during the pandemic for WOSU’s All Sides daily talk show.