The Art of Healthcare

April 16, 2012

For years scientists have studied the effects of artwork in healing environments. According to an article published by the National Institute of Health, "Researchers are now investigating how the arts can help us recover from disease, injury, and psychological trauma. Many scientists agree that the arts can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve well being, and enhance the way we fight infection."

The potential for positive effects created by art programs have prompted nearly half of the healthcare institutions in the United States to begin arts in healthcare programming within their organizations.

One of the most common types of arts programming in healthcare facilities is the permanent display of art. Pat Davis, South Central Kansas Medical Center's Chief Nursing Officer, has seen first-hand the benefits of art within their hospital.

"In the healthcare setting, art can serve as a therapeutic tool used by the patient, their family, and the caregiver. Art can provide that safe space to process their experiences and emotions, and can allow one's mind to enjoy the peace and serenity that is viewed within the frame," Davis said.

Davis's opinion is supported by a report published by the Society for Arts in Healthcare, which states, "Studies have proven that integrating the arts into healthcare settings helps to cultivate a healing environment, support the physical, mental, and emotional recovery of patients, communicate health and recovery information, and foster a positive environment for caregivers that reduces stress and improves workplace satisfaction and employee retention."

SCKMC has intertwined art with healing since they opened the doors of their new facility one-year ago. Most notably is the partnership with the Burford Center for Arts that brings new artwork to the hospital for display each quarter.

Along with being an unconventional gallery for area artists interested in displaying and selling their creations, the hospital has been the recipient of several pieces of donated artwork. Dr. Christopher Siwek donated a large statue of an eagle that is on display in the hospital's front entry. Two large, original oil wildlife paintings were donated by Bonnie Smith in memory of her husband, Judge Mike Smith. Both paintings hang in the hospital's Outpatient Services Building. Union State Bank donated several framed prints from the "Stone Bridges of Cowley County" collection for the hospital's USB Conference Center. And multiple other individuals have pledged financial support over the years during PrairieFest to allow the hospital to purchase various pieces of artwork that hang throughout the facility.

The most recent gift of art adorns the medical center's main waiting area. Three large canvas photographs taken by local art photographer Fred Rindt. The photographs were part of the original Burfurd Center for the Arts exhibit within the hospital and were recently donated by Rindt and his wife Donna for permanent display.

"I saw them at the art show hanging in (the lobby waiting area) and noticed the people sitting in the room seemed to be comfortable and calm. (The photographs) added warmth and comfort to the room," Rindt said.

Fred Rindt has been a professional photographer since 1982. The landscape photos are some of the largest canvas he has worked with during his career.

Steve Perkins, SCKMC's CEO, believes Rindt's art is a perfect fit with the mission of the medical center.

"The idea is to improve quality of life in everything we do here, not just for our patients but for everyone who comes to SCKMC. Arts programming allows us to make our setting more person-centered. The arts reach family members and support their important role in the healing process. Our partnership with the Burford Center for the Arts and the generosity of our artwork donors allows us one more opportunity to accomplish that," Perkins said.

Photo: Clayton Pappan, SCKMC Chief Marketing Officer, presents Fred and Donna Rindt a plaque acknowledging their art donation to the hospital.