Painting a Healing Environment: March 22, 2014

It’s not money that moves Kristina Hodge to paint. A volunteer artist for Lee Memorial Health System, her work is aimed at a captive audience - hospital patients and their families.

“I think it’s a great idea; hospitals can be scary.  Arts in Healthcare is a wonderful program and it helps people relax and it takes them to a place to just be creative and go with the flow,” says Hodge.

Hodge’s art shows up in unexpected places. Her latest work is best viewed lying on your back. The ceiling tiles in the hallway of the radiology area at HealthPark Medical Center paint a peaceful picture.

“One is the dolphin jumping over two dolphins underneath. And then you have the second panel which are two seals and they are swimming above each other and the last one is going to be a four panel tile of a waterfall,” says Hodge.

Arts in Healthcare offers creative channels to link the expressive arts with the healing arts. But there is science behind its use. Repeated studies show adding art and music to a medical environment lessens anxiety and lifts spirits, which may promote faster recovery.

“We look for calm art obviously,” says Doug MacGregor, Arts in Healthcare coordinator with Lee Memorial Health System.

Former cartoonist MacGregor leads the effort.

“Art is a healing force, it’s been proven, clinically proven, that art and music calms the patient. So art is a very important part of everyday life - but in particular in a healthcare system,” says MacGregor.

Not the main attraction, her paintings provide a much-needed distraction and that’s okay with Hodge.

“Art is my background and I love it. You can do so much with it and it brings a lot of happiness to people,” says Hodge.