BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Johns Hopkins Hospital is tapping into a new tool to help its healthcare professionals recharge and mentally reboot during this especially taxing COVID-19 season.

The hospital is using an immersive gaming room where doctors and nurses can exercise, meditate or just decompress.

Chevelle Brown, a nurse in the neurosciences unit, said once people walk inside the room, they don’t feel like they’re in a hospital anymore.

“There’s nowhere in the hospital where you can go and not be interrupted, not even in the break room,” she said.

One of the few places to go and destress is the new interactive gaming room, “to escape that patient load, just everyone trying to talk to you and everything going on at one time,” Brown said.

The one-of-a-kind, cutting edge room was originally designed to help stroke patients regain upper-body strength and expedite their recoveries. It also doubles as a space for exercise, meditation and relaxation for those fighting the pandemic head-on.

“I think the combined uncertainties between the infectious potential as well as the always wanting to do good for patient care, as well as having to expanding roles on the fly, created a lot of stress and uncertainty for our healthcare providers here at the hospital,” Dr. Mona Bahouth, a stroke neurologist at the hospital, said.

On one wall is a projected underwater seascape where a user’s arm movements maneuver dolphins and whales to eat fish and fight off sharks. The music from the game also serves as a distraction.

“When you close that door and turn on this immersive game, you really have a chance to block out all of the hospital noise and it really takes you away for a few minutes,” Bahouth said.

People who have experienced the immersive room told Bahouth they have felt their blood pressure drop as a result of spending time inside.

Rachel Menitoff

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