Drumming Away Stress

Reporter: Shannon Samson

New Media Producer: Dave Novak

There are 400 employees of the Wesbury Retirement Community. They're working in a field notorious for high stress and employee turnover. With the help of Dr. Barry Bittman they're beating those odds by beating drums. Dr. Bittman says, "This is an opportunity to enable people to come together with a musical focus and a non-musical outcome. Reality has it that turnover rates in long-term care range between 40 and 100 percent per year."

The program started as a study to see if drum circles could reduce stress at work. Director of activities Rhonda Thomas says, "It was everything and more than I expected it to be. I thoroughly enjoyed myself."

Director of nursing Carol Phillips says, "You come in with things on your mind, but by the time you're done drumming and had fun with the people, your stress is gone."

Dr. Bittman hoped the stress reduction would save 44 positions; it saved 49. Bittman also found it boosts the immune system. "Now we have the psycho-social proof that demonstrates that this, in fact, has great promise," says Bittman.

It's clear the employees just see it as a way to have fun and relax with co-workers.

St. Mary's Hope Cancer Resource Center just started a drumming program for cancer survivors and caregivers, but anyone can come who wants to relieve stress and build up his or her immune system. The next five-week session starts in September