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Archive November 2020 XXI, No. 11

Ideas That Work: Art Therapy

Pre-op Bay Murals Put Patients at Ease

The Reading Hospital SurgiCenter at Spring Ridge
SOOTHING SCENES Artistic creativity can go a long way in calming patients and improving their moods as they wait in pre-op to be taken to the OR.

About seven years ago, we decided to transform some of our staff and patient spaces into "Zen dens" — areas that inspire calm and mindfulness. One of our nurses, Darlene Faust, RN, happened to have hidden artistic talent, so she began freehand-painting murals onto the walls of our pre-op bays during weekends. She started with a staff cubicle and a breast biopsy waiting room. The response to her murals was so positive that we painted the rest of our pre-op bay rooms — 12 in total.

Ms. Faust cleverly used a projector to display pictures and phrases onto walls, pencil-sketched the designs and painted over the lines later. She purposefully included displays that would appeal to everyone: meadows of flowers, a golf course, a beach and even jungle animals for the kids.

Other nurses implemented an evidence-based project to determine if the paintings had a calming effect on patients. They asked patients about how they felt and took their blood pressures, and found the painted rooms decreased their anxiety. The murals have also calmed and improved the morale of staff and patients' families. There isn't a week that goes by where we don't receive a positive comment about the displays in patient satisfaction surveys.

Susan Alexander, RN, MSN, CPAN, CSSM
The Reading Hospital SurgiCenter at Spring Ridge
Wyomissing, Pa.

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