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Healing with the Arts

The halls in the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre are looking brighter these days. This past spring, the Northern Lights Health Foundation launched an exciting new initiative, the Healing Halls Art Program. The art is being used within the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre to have a positive impact on the health and well-being of patients, families and staff.

Local artists have the opportunity to display and sell their art, with a percentage of proceeds from sales donated to the Health Foundation.

“The Health Foundation is excited that we’re combining the passion we have for improving the health care experience for our community, with the passion local artists have to inspire and move people through their artistic expressions,” says Christina Baker, Special Projects and Administrative Officer for the Health Foundation.

Artwork was initially placed on the Health Centre’s main floor, medicine department and cancer clinic. The Health Foundation aims to expand the art program to more areas of the Health Centre and to other AHS facilities throughout the region.

There is a growing body of research that demonstrates how art effectively creates an atmosphere of caring, warmth, healing and hope within health care settings. Patients exposed to art and images of beauty in hospitals, and in other health care settings, recover more quickly from surgery, ask for less pain medication, have shorter hospital stays, and experience less anxiety and depression.

“We’re hoping that patients, families and staff feel a positive emotional connection to the art and their experience in health care settings in Wood Buffalo,” says Baker. “Art has been proven to have many benefits in health care settings, including improving mood and even reducing recovery time in some cases.”

For doctors, nurses and other health care professionals who provide patient care, exposure to art reduces stress and leads to overall satisfaction with their jobs and in turn improved care for patients.

“People can experience some of the best and some of the worst times in hospitals, and in other health care settings,” says Baker. “Our hope is that the art on display will provide patients, families and staff with a mental release and put smiles on their faces.”

According to Tristan Schindlbeck, Manager of Ambulatory Care at the Health Centre, AHS has long recognized the important role that artwork can play in a health care facility.

“Art has the ability to help heal the soul and the mind, both of which can contribute to an overall healthier self,” says Schindlbeck. “We’re so happy the Health Foundation has paved the way for the Healing Halls Art Program in our region. It’s a great way to support local artists, and it will benefit our staff and patients in so many ways.”

“Not only does the artwork brighten up the halls of our local health care facilities, but those sale funds that are donated to the Health Foundation will eventually work their way back into our health care services,” she says.

The art program is already receiving accolades in the community, boasting art from various local artists, such as Amy Keller-Rempp, Alan Reeve, Vera Fustic, Margaret Payne, David Ball, Tracy Holland, Helene Giguere, Sonia Burke-Smith, Sithara Fernando, Shawna Vincent, Margie Cunningham, among others.

“The reception for our art program has been amazing,” says Baker. “We’ve received an incredible amount of positive feedback from local artists, staff and patients on how thankful they are that the program has brought life to our local health care facilities.”

According to Baker, the art program is a great opportunity for local artists to display their work. It’s also a unique way to make a real impact in Wood Buffalo.

“Not only can artists earn income from their work, but also feel a sense of pride knowing that their passion has made a difference in the lives of those receiving health care services in our region,” she says.

In addition to making connections with local artists through the art program, the Health Foundation has also been able to establish exciting partnerships with other local social profits, such as the Centre of Hope.

The Health Foundation recently had the opportunity to partner with the Centre of Hope as part of the Homelessness Stigma Reduction Campaign.

As part of the campaign, the Centre of Hope partnered with Keyano College and the Arts Council Wood Buffalo to give patrons the opportunity to create a unique piece of art that addresses their personal experiences surrounding homelessness. The pieces created are now displayed as part of the art program.

The Health Foundation looks forward to the continued growth of this art program in our region and encourages all local artists to consider making a contribution.

If you are interested in purchasing an item from the Healing Halls Art Program, or are an artist looking to contribute, please contact the Health Foundation.

This article was originally published in YMM Magazine.

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