At 1:30 p.m. sharp, nurses in the family birthing unit at St. Joseph Hospital in Chicago begin dimming the lights, closing patients' room doors, hushing staff conversations, silencing phones and gently reminding physicians to limit disruptions. Environmental services workers avoid running vacuums or pushing noisy carts, and friends and family are urged to choose alternate times to visit.
It's the start of a daily 90-minute quiet time, instituted to give new moms a break from the din that usually accompanies a hospital stay.
One floor up, in the hospital's intensive-care unit, a similar, two-hour quiet time is in effect. Voices are lowered, lights are turned down and nurses remind themselves to step softly. “We try not to schedule any tests during that time, too,” said Gladys Garcia, manager of the ICU.