The Art of Healing

Tuesday, Sep 02, 2014

Art is an important part of Doylestown Hospital's character. Whether through paintings on the wall or art therapy, art can help heal.

Harnessing the Healing Power of Art

The mission of Doylestown Hospital includes providing a "healing environment for our patients and their families." A large component of the healing environment at Doylestown Hospital includes art in various forms.

"Doylestown Hospital launched the Healing Arts Program in 2012. The mostly volunteer effort is part of a holistic approach to healing that addresses the mind, body and spirit," says Karen Langley, director of Volunteer Services.

"Research shows that art offers benefits for the healing process and also increases patient satisfaction in the hospital setting," says Karen.

Arts programs play an increasingly important role in healthcare organizations. The national 2009 State of the Field Report: Arts in Healthcare states, "The arts benefit patients by aiding in their physical, mental, and emotional recovery, including relieving anxiety and decreasing the perception of pain. In an atmosphere where the patient often feels out of control, the arts can serve as a therapeutic and healing tool, reducing stress and loneliness and providing opportunities for self-expression." The report was sponsored by the Society for the Arts in Healthcare, Americans for the Arts, The Joint Commission and University of Florida Center for the Arts in Healthcare.

Susan Clarke Plumb, artist and former museum curator, helped launch the Healing Arts Program at Doylestown Hospital. "Art engages patients in a way that's not typical," she says. "The patients are very receptive."

5 Components to the Healing Arts Program

  • Richard Reif Art Exchange - When former long-time CEO Rich Reif retired in 2012, the volunteers joined together to donate money in his honor to be used to purchase paintings. Volunteers visit patient rooms with a catalog to give patients the opportunity to select which painting they'd like to have hang in their room during their stay.
  • Art Cart - Volunteers take a cart with various art supplies to patients who might benefit from a session with a volunteer, trying their hand at drawing or sculpting in clay.
  • Art Backpacks - Nurses can request an art backpack for patients who would like to do something creative (modeling clay, sketching, etc.). Patients can do a project on their own or with a volunteer.
  • Music for healing - The Sweet Harmony, women's a cappella group, comes to the hospital each month while a teen volunteer plays guitar for the patients.
  • Art all around us - In addition to promoting the therapeutic benefits of the Healing Arts Program, Doylestown Hospital proudly displays original artwork by local artists throughout the campus. A large number of works are part of the hospital's permanent collection, and highlight the rich artistic heritage of Bucks County.

In the ArtWalk, which connects the hospital to the Emergency Department, works are rotated every three months. Volunteers help coordinate the rotations, which feature everything from young artists (elementary school age) to semi-professional Bucks County painters, quilters, woodworkers and photographers. Since its debut in 2010, the ArtWalk has been popular with patients, visitors and staff.

Volunteers Wanted

The Healing Arts Program is always looking for new volunteers. Certain activities require artistic ability, but some do not. There are a variety of opportunities to get involved and make a difference in a patient's life. For more information, contact Karen Langley.

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