Healing Arts program tackles patients’ mental and emotional health at Parkview

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — A Parkview program aims to help patients get better through art.

Vicki Junk-Wright has been with the Healing Arts program since it was first launched by Parkview and the Fort Wayne Dance Collective eight years ago. Through the program, musicians, dancers, visual artists and writers spend time with patients.

“Might be somebody bringing in their guitar, it might be someone like myself, who says, hey, I’ve got art to offer, do you like to do things,” said Junk-Wright.

The around ten-person team helps to lift the spirits of patients at Parkview’s Regional Medical Center and Randallia campus, like one mother who had recently given birth but was not able to be discharged with her baby.

“I think we did an activity together and then the next time I came back, she was just in not a good place because she had thought she was going to go home and she wasn’t her lung had collapsed, and she needed to be back in the hospital,” Junk-Wright said.

The mother was feeling down, but Junk-Wright said after looking at a photo of the baby and talking about them the mother’s mood improved.

“You start using your brush, it just seems to come alive and for a mama missing her child, this would maybe feel a little more like the baby’s there with just the piece coming alive in front of her.”

She had a similar experience when she visited with a man who was hospitalized during the pandemic and had not had a visitor for around 20 days. He told her that what he most appreciated was having a conversation with someone about something other than his hospital stay. Another time, she talked with a woman about her beloved garden and was able to hand the woman an overhead drawing her what it looked like.

According to Junk-Wright, when a patient is in higher spirits, it can make them more comfortable and push them towards an easier recovery.

“The hospital, when we first started doing this would track us on different floors, and started to realize that the response of the of the patient was really positive wherever the arts were,” said Junk-Wright. “The Greeks knew that you could do art and change a person’s energy and change the way they’re thinking about what they’re going through. We got so into science and acquainting things and evaluating them that we kind of forgot about addressing the emotions.”

Junk-Wright said it is not a job for everyone because of the heavy situations many of the patients are confronted with, but also that it is something that does not require any special education.

“We’re not therapists, we’re not trained to therapeutically work with people or even to diagnose them, what we’re doing is actually was kind of an experimental thing Parkview started about eight years ago,” said Junk-Wright. “When you’re in the hospital, things are extremely emotional and there’s a lot of fret and anger and fear and frustration, and how am I going to pay for this and all that stuff. You start bringing in some arts, and you start to calm all that chatter in their head because it’s emotional.”

As much as it helps the patients, it also helps the nurses get through their work more efficiently.

“We forget, especially during this COVID time, you’ve got a lot of anxious people there on those buttons, and they’re calling those nurses in, and the nurses have to gown up and gown off,” Junk-Wright said. “We can’t go in the COVID areas, but we can give them kits or we can help them with their others, the other patients that they’re serving, so that they have more time to be able to actually serve the people better, instead of just answering the call of an anxious person all the time.”

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