Reading Hospital Foundation opens Serenity Space for parents who face death of newborn

Reading Hospital Foundation opened a special Serenity Space for maternity patients and their families to cope with the death of an infant.

The room is designed to provide a quiet, calm and more relaxing environment where important communication can occur among patients, their families and healthcare providers, and support team when coping with severe illness or death of an infant. Staff may also meet to discuss challenging cases and provide support to one another.

The room was funded by an employee grant program from the family of the late Russell Bickel Jr. to support a project that improves patient-centered care, with a special focus on communication with patients and family and care providers. The Serenity Space grant application was co-authored by obstetric nurses Kelly Bower and Melissa Spang.

“The Reading Hospital Beginnings Maternity team has had a bereavement program in place for many years,” said Bower. “Within the hospital environment, it is extremely difficult to find a quiet space where mothers and fathers can receive the news that their baby is either no longer living or is not expected to live beyond the initial hours after delivery. We created the Serenity Space as an area where grieving families can go to be alone, or to talk quietly with their providers. It will also be a place where staff can retreat to gather their thoughts and reflect after a traumatic event.”

The Serenity Space is set away from the busy patient care areas to provide privacy. The room includes self-help and inspirational materials and support resource information.

“Communication between patients and providers is critical,” said Swoyer. “The Russell S. Bickel, Jr. Memorial Grant Fund for Quality Improvement was started to support and strengthen the patient and provider relationship. This room is so significant for families dealing with loss, and I am honored that my brother’s legacy will support such an important initiative.”

“The Reading Hospital Foundation appreciates the ongoing support of Barbera Swoyer and the Bickel family to identify projects that encourage communication between patients, their families, and providers,” said Katherine Thornton, Reading Hospital Foundation president. “We are proud to be able to provide this safe space for those who need it.”

Reading Hospital adds emergency tent, virtual ICU

Reading Hospital has added an emergency tent adjacent to the hospital’s emergency department, one of several changes to adjust to the hospital’s needs during the COVID-19 crisis.

The tent will add capacity and be used to treat suspected COVID-19 patients, according to the Tower Health Network, the Reading-based parent health organization of Reading Hospital. The tent can also be used for future emergencies as needed.

In addition, a virtual intensive care unit will allow the hospital’s critical care physicians to remotely monitor patients in all ICU’s and provide direction to caregivers onsite. The virtual intensive care unit will be a permanent fixture at Reading Hospital after the pandemic is over, according to Tower Health.

The hospital has also placed a trailer on site to serve as a temporary morgue in the event their internal facilities reach capacity.

Reading Hospital Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to helping the hospital fund its mission, donated $250,000 dollars to help pay for these COVID-19-related changes.

“The Foundation is here to support the Reading Hospital community, physicians, and staff,” said Jeff Rush, Foundation chairman in a statement. “We’ve never seen anything like this in the storied history of our hospital and we are committed to providing the assistance needed at this critical time.”