The power of pausing after a death

Witnessing death time and time again is not always easy on healthcare workers.

But at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, workers have found solace by taking a moment together to silently reflect after every patient's death, according to a report published by Kaiser Health News.

They call it The Pause. It began about two years ago, after trauma worker Jonathan Bartels and his team at UVMC tried and failed to resuscitate a patient, according to the report.

After the patient's death, the chaplain present stopped everybody from leaving the room and prayed over this patient. The next time Mr. Bartels and his team worked on another person who didn't make it, he decided to stop people from leaving.

"I just said, 'Can we stop just for a moment and recognize this person in the bed? You know this person before they came in here were alive, they were interacting with family, they were loved by others, they had a life,'" he said in the report.

The Pause took off from there and began to spread throughout the hospital, particularly to emergency department workers, according to the report. The Pause is also being taught as part of the curriculum at the University of Virginia School of Nursing in Charlottesville.

Additionally, the concept has spread to other places in the country. After the dean of UVA's school of nursing talked about The Pause during a national conference, a nurse from Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center brought it to Spokane, Wash., according to the report.

 

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