“People say the effect is only on the mind. It is no such thing. The effect is on the body too.”
Florence Nightingale, Notes on Nursing
Even Florence Nightingale knew the impact of art on patients. Indeed, its calming and healing effect on both mind and body makes it a vital presence in a hospital environment. This is especially true in an intensive care unit which can be a frightening experience for both patients and visitors, with all its unfamiliar equipment and sounds.
The BWV supports Penn Medicine in many ways b,ut improving patient care and comfort remains its priority. Each year on average, the BWV approves $300,000 to help fund projects on the ‘wish lists’ of departments throughout the Health System. The members generously provided a $20,000 grant to help transform the ICU.
Staff members met with art specialist Joan Swenson and chose pieces of art for the unit’s public areas, including around the nurses station, the waiting area, and, especially, the consultation room, which seemed cold and uninviting. “That’s where we’re telling families critical information about their loved one, where they sometimes have to make life or death decisions,” Ledwith said.
After much debate, the unit’s Healing Arts Committee chose 25 pieces, in a variety of subject matter and mixed media . Some are traditional paintings of nature, while others are more modern, such as the colorful glass discs that now grace the walls of the consultation room.
Not surprisingly, feedback from both patients and staff has been positive. “Art contributes to the environment of healing,” said M. Sean Grady, MD, chair of Neurosurgery, “helping our patients and families through the recovery process.”
“This art work alters your focus and takes you someplace else,” added Eileen Maloney, MSN, ACNP, director, Clinical Research in Neurosurgery. “It’s nice to be surrounded by beautiful things.”