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  • A sacred space

    By Janna Fischer, 3M Storyteller

    scenic view of a canoer paddling by a peaceful island
    A sacred space

    When you see that phrase, what comes to mind? A quiet corner. Your neighborhood yoga studio. A fishing boat at sunrise. A sterile operating room.

    Wait … what?

    close up of a person putting on a surgical glove

    Change agents

    A group of nurses set out to transform their noisy, cold and stark operating room into a warm, comforting environment for patients. A sacred space where lights are dimmed, soft music is played and colorful murals adorn the walls; where staff is dedicated to alleviating fears and putting patients at ease.

    It’s called the Sacred Space Environment for Surgical Patients. The innovative, research-based model of care was developed by Barbara Schmock, a perioperative and holistic nurse, and her colleagues at Abington Hospital – Jefferson Health in Pennsylvania.

    Their goal? To create a holistic healing environment where nurses' actions are focused on honoring patients during their most vulnerable moments.

    “We provide an environment in which the patient feels more in control and better able to cope with pain and restrictions. When patient needs are met with respect and compassion, natural healing is enhanced.”
    nurse holding the hand of a patient

    In a typical operating room, dialogue between nurse and patient is often minimal and focuses mainly on the verification of critical information.

    In the Sacred Space environment, the nurse also engages the patient in conversation that addresses his or her worries and concerns related to the surgical procedure. The operating room features soothing instrumental music, soft lighting and colorful art murals. Special heated gowns provide physical warmth, help reduce anxiety and promote the preservation of core temperature during anesthesia and surgery.

    The patient experiences the nurse’s therapeutic presence and touch, and falls to sleep with the nurse holding his or her hand.

    “Patient warming is an important component of the Sacred Space model of care, not only for comfort, but for positive surgical outcomes. We help keep patients warm by pre-warming them in pre-op with [3M] Bair Paws gowns, as well as socks and surgical hats, warm blankets and forced-air warming devices.”
    Nurses at Abington Hospital
    Nurses benefit, too

    Bet Key Wong, a former OR nurse and a clinical specialist in 3M's Infection Prevention Division, is inspired by how this innovative care model is transforming not only the patients’ experiences, but the nurses’ too.

    “The Sacred Space model brings nursing back into the OR,” says Bet. “The OR environment is extremely technical and robotic. Barbara’s model allows perioperative nurses to return to the roots of nursing that is based on compassion and care.”

    The Sacred Space is now standard practice in all operating rooms at Abington Hospital. Requests to replicate the model have been received from hospitals nationwide.

    Learn more

    3M Medical Materials and Technologies helps health care manufacturers design and build more reliable, innovative and feature-rich medical devices. 3M can connect you with products from our 51 technology platforms – built on decades of industry experience and constant striving for product and process innovations – or create new-to-the-world solutions for your specific challenges.