December 7, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Healing Through Art Program Provides Distraction from Pain, Anxiety and Hospital Routine

John Delgado rated his pain at 9 on a scale from zero to 10 – even when he was taking medication to reduce its severity. Then, with encouragement from nurses and volunteers at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica, he picked up a paint brush and focused on recreating the image before him. To his surprise, he realized he was experiencing less pain.

“When I’m painting, my mind is set on what I’m doing, and not my pain level,” said the Culver City resident, who has been a hospital patient several times during this past year.

That’s exactly the response registered nurse Heather Dodge hoped for when she started bringing art supplies to her medical-surgical unit last year – a unit where patients spend days, weeks or sometimes months.

“As an artist and a nurse, I saw a huge opportunity to help keep patients occupied with art rather than focusing solely on their pain and illness, said Dodge, who earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2012, after receiving her bachelor’s degree in fine art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2002. She actually began as a hospital volunteer in 2010 before becoming a certified nursing assistant and later an RN.

These experiences led her to combine her loves of art and nursing by exploring a new approach to help patients deal with pain, stress and isolation while hospitalized. As she began visualizing this new approach to healing, she wondered how to attract dedicated volunteers like herself to help with the program.

“My challenge was to create a meaningful experience that would help distract patients from their illness and pain by offering them an outlet for creativity while keeping volunteers actively engaged in the program,” she said.

The answer was to provide art supplies and inspiration to patients and volunteers, allowing them to work together to create paintings or other projects. The outreach was an immediate success, with patients like Delgado and others welcoming an opportunity to express themselves through art while interacting with volunteers.

As artwork was completed, Dodge asked patients if they would like to keep the painting or donate it to the “Healing Through Art” program. If patients opted to donate the piece, Dodge would frame and gift it to another patient on the unit during the holiday season.

“In this way, each piece of artwork has the potential to touch yet another life,” Dodge said. To date, about 64 works of art have been gifted for other patients during Hanukkah and Christmas.

Currently, the program is evolving to include additional types of art, and may soon expand to other units at the medical center. While Dodge has funded the fledgling effort with personal funds, she hopes to receive support through a grant and have the program become part of the hospital’s Volunteer Program.

Dodge thinks similar programs are a rarity in hospitals nationwide. Although many hospitals have child-life specialists who do art projects and provide play therapy to help pediatric patients deal with the uncertainty and monotony of hospital stays, few have equivalent art programs for adult patients.

“The same anxieties and fears common to hospitalized children are still very relevant in our adult population, and helping patients discover their ‘voice in color’ provides a fundamental vehicle for self-expression” she said.

“I truly believe this personal interaction while creating art can play an important role in helping someone heal faster, manage stress and have a better overall hospital experience,” she continued.

Delgado agrees, and is glad he had a chance to participate in the program. “Lying there in pain, I was kind of desperate, so I started painting,” he explained, “and sure enough I stopped thinking about my pain, and started realizing it wasn’t that bad. The program really helped me.”

For more information about the program or to donate art supplies, please contact Heather Dodge athdodge@mednet.ucla.edu.

Culver City resident, John Delgado (far left), is pictured with Heather Dodge, RN, founder of the medical center’s Healing Through Art program, and volunteer Vignesh Balasundaram.
Related Posts

Los Angeles City Council Committee Moves Forward on Contentious Scattergood Power Plant Plan

December 6, 2022

December 6, 2022

Plan would shift power to green hydrogen instead of natural gas By Dolores Quintana On December 1, the Los Angeles...

Venice Sign Lighting Celebrates 11th Anniversary

December 6, 2022

December 6, 2022

Venice celebrates the 11th year of lighting the Venice sign on Windward ave for the holidays!.Video sponsored by School of...

AstraZeneca to acquire Santa Monica Biotech Company for $320 Million

December 6, 2022

December 6, 2022

Neogene bought by biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca  AstraZeneca recently announced an agreement to acquire Santa Monica-based Neogene Therapeutics Inc. (Neogene), a...

SMMUSD to Appoint Interim Superintendent Next Week

December 5, 2022

December 5, 2022

District looks to replace Dr. Ben Drati who is leaving to head up the Bellflower Unified School District The Santa...

New Report Predicts Rents Will Increase In Some L.A Neighborhoods: Santa Monica Real Estate Report – December 5th, 2022

December 5, 2022

December 5, 2022

Property, Developments, And Listings On The Westside.*  1920’s Vintage Mediterranean Listed For $8.3m*  New Report Predicts Rents Will Increase In...

Construction for 100-Unit NMS Lincoln Nearly Complete

December 3, 2022

December 3, 2022

Five-story project at 1550 Lincoln Boulevard almost done By Dolores Quintana NMS Lincoln is nearly finished after two years of...

 LA Home Prices Decline for Third Month in a Row

December 2, 2022

December 2, 2022

 Forbes analist shows pullback from buyers in Los Angeles home market By Dolores Quintana After a seller’s market reigned, the...

SMa.r.t. Column: An Urgent Appeal to Our New City Council & Management

December 2, 2022

December 2, 2022

The future lies within our cities, but our cities are crumbling! Cities are home to over 1/2 the world’s population...

“Art at the Airport” and 18th Street Arts Center Host Annual Winter Party

December 2, 2022

December 2, 2022

Free event set for December 10 By Keemia Zhang The local organization “Art at the Airport” has collaborated with the...

Lyft Removes Scooters and Bikes From Santa Monica

December 2, 2022

December 2, 2022

Santa Monica down to three shared-mobility companies By Dolores Quintana Lyft has removed its micro-mobility services from the cities of...

Separation of the Santa Monica-Malibu School District Moves Forward

December 2, 2022

December 2, 2022

Public engagement to begin in early 2023  By Dolores Quintana The separation of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD)...

Consumer Protection Lawsuit Against Rihanna’s Lingerie Line Resolved With $1.2 Million Stipulated Judgment

December 2, 2022

December 2, 2022

Lawsuit brought forth by Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office and other offices against Savage X Fenty A consumer protection lawsuit...

NPS Confirms Mountain Lion That Killed Chihuahua in Hollywood Hills Was P-22

December 1, 2022

December 1, 2022

Mountain lion will not be euthanized, NPS says By Sam Catanzaro During the evening of November 9, a large animal...

Westside Ballet Sells Out the Broad Stage for 9th Year in Residence

December 1, 2022

December 1, 2022

The performance company’s 49th Season of the Holiday Classic features dancers beyond the Westside The longest-running Nutcracker production in SoCal...

Local Restaurant’s Burger Named Best in the Southland

November 30, 2022

November 30, 2022

Hank’s Palisades’ burger named best in the Southland by the LA Times Hank’s restaurant in the Pacific Palisades and Executive...