The pandemic has taken its toll on the mental health and wellbeing of many people, especially teenagers. Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center has seen an increase in mental health visits to the pediatric emergency room. That’s why the staff created a new space for young patients to relax and chill out. Over the past few months, a planning team has transformed the hospital’s old playroom into a Zen den, an area specifically designed to meet the mental health needs of teens.
“Before a teen is admitted, there is a fair amount of wait time anxiety,” said Melanie Lee, clinical nursing director of pediatrics for Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center. “The Zen den is a safe and supportive space that came at just the right time. During this pandemic, we saw an increase in teenagers needing mental health services.”
The moment someone walks in the room, that person is surrounded by peace and calm – the lighting is dim, the walls are painted blue, and soft music is playing in the background. Teens can relax in a beanbag chair, write their feelings on a white board, or enjoy the Vector Jr. sensory station, complete with a bubble and jellyfish tower.
“You feel like you are not in the hospital,” said Meghan Siegel, a certified child-life specialist at Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center, “and it’s already making a difference. Patients are relieved, peaceful and less stressed. It’s really a simple space.”
The Zen den was made possible thanks to donations from the community. When Rob Rex died in November 2020, his family asked loved ones and friends to donate money for a new playroom at the hospital. Nearly $14,000 was raised through the Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center Foundation, which helped create this innovative addition to the pediatric emergency unit.
"We are happy to be able to give back to the community that has been so incredibly supportive of us,” said Jenn Rex. “There is not much more important than the mental health of our children and we are proud to have the Zen den named in my husband’s memory and as a lasting reminder of the impact his life had on so many. Rob was the most positive person I have ever known, and we look forward to doing as many positive things as we can in his honor."