Hospitals and Art, A Proposal

Most people can agree that going to hospitals and/or to the doctor’s office as a patient is not always fun and can even sometimes lead to traumatic experiences. For example, I don’t know anyone that actually enjoys going to the dentist. But shouldn’t we? Dentists mend our teeth and try to relieve our pain. Is it the smell of dental offices that makes us shake with fear? The feeling of not having control over our bodies and being in a vulnerable position? Is it the lack of a friendly and colorful environment? What can we change in how we see the world of medicine and healthcare to create a friendlier environment for all kinds of patients in different settings?

For my final paper I discussed ways in which we could implement the use of both art and technology to create a friendlier and more comfortable environment for patients, their families and their friends. Ways to do this vary. I talked about how from my experience as being a volunteer at a hospital, music is very therapeutic not only to the patients and their families, but even the people that work at the hospital. Just by having a pianist play classical music throughout the day in a lobby can lighten everyones mood.

I also discussed whether when you are a patient, is knowledge helpful or hurtful? I know some people don’t want to know anything more than they need to, while some want to know everything and then some more. But maybe there is a way to find a compromise that translates the technical information into something a patient would understand and be satisfactory with hearing, but at the same time doesn’t say too much. I discussed creating a machine that will be able to translate all the numbers and data the hooked up monitors get and translate them into a sentence like “You’re okay” or, if the numbers aren’t particularly good, the message will read something along the lines of “Doctors are on their way, stay calm”. Patients would also be able to control whether or not they want to be notified of anything at all by having to press a button that signals they want to hear an update of their “status”.

Another important issue I discussed in my paper is the idea that many people get fulfillment through caring for something or someone else, so why not give patients something to care for during their stay? What if patients were given indoor plants to take care of during their stay that needed to be watered at least once a day. If patients are unable to get out of bed, there can be installed a small maneuverable watering hose that the patient can control from his or her bed and take care of their plants.

When working in medicine and healthcare, it is important to think about the patient as another human being and to consciously put yourself in their shoes to try and find the best way to better their experience and recovery.

– Alice Musher


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