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Spaces: Recharge Rooms

We take a peek inside a Michigan Medicine space.
By Natalia Holtzman, MSI’19


Read time: 3 minutes

A handful of rooms at the University of Michigan Hospital draw on immersive, interactive technology to improve visitors’ mind-body connection and rejuvenate their sense of well-being.

Designed in partnership with the immersive space experience of Studio Elsewhere in New York, the Recharge Rooms, as they’re known, are open to full-time Michigan Medicine employees, and are intended to be used as break areas.

“It’s an interactive art display that uses imagery, sound, and music in order to create that mind-body connection … by utilizing technology that we have in the room,” says Marisa Streelman, the strategic advisor to the chief nurse executive and point person for the technology in the Flourish Room, the most recently installed Recharge Room.

Entering the Flourish Room, visitors can access an iPad-sized touchscreen that corresponds to a larger screen reflected on the wall. The touchscreen offers five different modules, such as “Starlight: Energy,” “Color Chorus: Mood,” and “Ocean Flow: Focus.”

Depending on the module, different patterns of color and light appear onscreen. These patterns move and shift depending on the viewer’s own movements: as you wave your arms, those colors and lights wave too.

Streelman notes the importance of “taking a break between the fight [or] flight that you get with taking care of patients within that task-oriented mentality of the day-to-day.”

“Taking a pause and really using movement as a way to … release neurotransmitters in a different way to connect your body into a calming experience,” Streelman says, can be restorative.

“It resets you in the moment,” she adds.

Streelman notes that many nurses, who tend to be on their feet throughout their shifts, “don’t want to move when they’re on a break. They actually want to just sit and focus.”

The Flourish Room includes a module designed for this purpose: the “Alpine Air: Passive Breathwork Experience” option is designed for users who prefer a guided breathing exercise rather than a movement-oriented session.

While the original Recharge Rooms opened in 2021, the Flourish Room opened in April 2023 at University Hospital. The funding was a gift from a donor, Martin J. Tuck, DDS’77, MS’80, whose wife, Suzanne, was treated by nurses in an adult acute care unit.

“[Suzanne] wanted to do something to give back to the nurses,” Streelman says. “At the development office, we have a plethora of different options for donors to choose from. This was one that [Dr. Tuck] felt would have given his wife the most meaning for the nurses.”

In providing private, dedicated space to hospital staff, the Recharge Rooms may offer additional benefits as well. In the past, Streelman says, the soothing environments of the Recharge Rooms have been used for other well-being initiatives for the nursing staff, such as massage therapy sessions and scheduled time with the animal therapy program.

Streelman says there’s yet another unintended benefit of the rooms — what many people may not know about nurses is that “there is nowhere offstage.”

“Whether you’re in front of your patient [or] you’re in front of your peers, someone is always with you … Someone is always in the hallways, someone is always in the room, someone’s always in the break room with you, someone’s always at the nursing desk — you are always ‘on.’ So to be able to find a spot to just breathe and recharge is really important.”

Natalia Holtzman, MSI’19, is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. 

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