By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
ROCK ISLAND, Ill. – It’s all about healing. That’s the job of staff at hospitals. One way to encourage healing is through art, which benefits patients, staff and family as well, said Dana Wilkinson, CEO of Paragon Commercial Interiors.
Wilkinson, an interior designer, selected artwork for the new, $61.3 million emergency room and cardiac care expansion at Unity HealthPoint–Trinity hospital in Rock Island. She and her committee chose the work of local artists for display. One of those artists is Sister Elizabeth Thoman, CHM, of Davenport.
Sr. Thoman said she was at an event and heard Trinity needed healing art. She talked with Trinity President and CEO Rick Seidler who was at that same event. Seidler passed along Sr. Thoman’s name to Wilkinson.
“I saw what experience Sister Liz had and her involvement in healing art,” Wilkinson said. Sr. Thoman had created a series of flower photographs that she called Healing Petals to inspire prayer and reflection, hope and healing.
Sr. Thoman, a cancer survivor, says Healing Petals is an innovative resource for hospitals and medical facilities to enhance the spiritual dimension of patient-centered care. At St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville, Tenn., more than 300 Healing Petals photographs are displayed in patient rooms and throughout the hospital.
Sister and Wilkinson got together for coffee at the Congregation of the Humility of Mary Center in Davenport. “I embraced sister’s art,” Wilkinson said. “This was appropriate for our project.”
Sister provided Wilkinson the digital files of more than 200 flowers. Wilkinson said she looked at all of them to find images that evoked healing to her.
Because of infection-control issues and the need for art to be easily cleaned, the final images were printed on aluminum panels and installed in the rooms. “They look like they are floating,” Sr. Thoman said at an open house March 29. “There is no frame. No plastic cover. They will not scratch.”
Twenty-eight Healing Petals are in the new emergency room and 12 in the cardiac care unit patient rooms.
Sr. Thoman said the final product is not overwhelming. “It pleases me that those who come here for a few hours or a few days or even those who may die here can experience the healing and touch of God.” She believes that together, the staff and the art can bring healing of body and soul.
Wilkinson believes she achieved her goal to make the situations in each room more pleasant with healing art. “It’s simple things that can make a difference. It’s not just for the patient, but for the family with their loved one and the staff who are there day after day.”
More than 200 pieces of artwork hang at the new facility from 20 area artists.