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Relaxation pods set up for Methodist Hospital staff

The hospital says the pods are a way to give back to staff who are working tirelessly during the pandemic. The pods are soundproof, safe and clean.

SAN ANTONIO — Health care providers are able to relax and recharge inside these pods. The hospital administration says the rooms are a way to give back to staff who are working tirelessly during the pandemic.

Methodist Hospital launched a new pilot program to bring in the pods for nurses, doctors and other staff members. Each pod is 43.5 square feet with a twin-sized bed or massage chair, a privacy and sound-blocking curtain, and charging stations.

Credit: Methodist Hospital
A look inside one of the relaxation pods.

The hospital says rigorous cleaning and disinfection protocols are in place. Janelle Lopez, associate chief operating officer at Methodist, came up with the idea to bring the pods to the hospital. She said the only other hospital in the country with the relaxation pods is in New York.  

“We have so many staff that have been pulling extra shifts and running, just going above and beyond,” said Lopez. “That’s what I really wanted for the staff. Quiet, uninterrupted 30 minutes.”

Laura Ayala, a registered nurse at the hospital, was one of the first staff members to test it out. Recently, her father passed away from the coronavirus in the Rio Grande Valley.

“Yesterday was one of my counseling sessions and before I thought it would be a great time to just take a few minutes after my shift to collect myself,” she said.

Credit: Laura Ayala
Laura Ayala's father.

Ayala continued to work at the hospital when her father was in the ICU and shared how her colleagues made their own sacrifices. She said she appreciates the hospital’s initiative and anticipates the pods will help staff during this difficult time.

Credit: Laura Ayala
Laura Ayala in her scrubs at the hospital.

“Whether it’s a nurse that’s been working on a COVID unit on hours on end, or you know we have families too. So, taking families overnight and having to take care of patients during the day,” said Ayala. “People are working overtime and pouring their heart out and strength out to help the people of our community.”

Ayala encourages people who are suffering from grief or emotional stress to seek help. She’s found support through her church and shared a resource to find local groups to go through the grieving process.

“It’s (coronavirus) touching everybody’s lives in such a big way and people are suffering losses,” said Ayala. “Don’t suffer your loss or your grief by yourself. Reach out to someone and let someone know how they can support you."

The hospital says the pilot program will run for five months. If it's successful, administration plans to get more pods. 

Credit: Methodist Hospital
The exterior of one of the pods.