Art is Part of High-Quality Care at Zufall Health
For nearly a decade, Zufall Health has integrated visual art into health care delivery. As part of our commitment to patient-centered care, we offer programs like Arts in Health and Breast Health Navigation that promote emotional wellbeing through art. On February 15, Zufall leadership spoke about the role that art plays in healing during the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC)’s webinar, “Creativity & Healing: Connecting Through Art – the Zufall Health Experience.”
Leadership’s Vision of a Beautiful, Welcoming Environment
Arts in Health exhibits original works by local artists, complete with themes and opening receptions, in our impressive, 20,000–square–foot Dover, NJ headquarters building. Former president and CEO Eva Turbiner said the program was developed as part of leadership’s vision of a beautiful, welcoming patient environment. When the building, a former bank, was purchased in 2011, Turbiner and colleagues knew they wanted to showcase original, high-quality art inside the historic building, and quickly installed a gallery hanging system to facilitate this goal.
“We always intended that [our Dover medical facility] be beautiful…to make the staff understand that we respected them, to make the patients understand they were also respected,” Turbiner said.
Chief medical officer Rina Ramirez, M.D., added that having the ability to express oneself through art, or to connect with others by looking at art, creates a path toward wellbeing and provides space for healing.
“It helps the person who creates that art to process situations, emotions, and experiences…and lets other people who are looking at that art [understand the artist],’” Ramirez explained.
Meet Our Community of Artists
A video about the benefits of Arts in Health, as told by our artists and staff, was also included in the webinar. Like those who receive health care at Zufall, the artists have diverse backgrounds, and all are welcome to submit work. Being surrounded by artwork helps patients disconnect, immerse themselves in beauty, find relief from anxiety, and, perhaps, become inspired to create their own art.
When patients participate, our staff are able to understand our patients beyond their immediate health care needs. One painting shown in the video, submitted by a patient who is also a farm worker, is a reminder to staff that our patients are dynamic and creative individuals.
How Art Supports the Mental Health of People with Cancer
Sarah Aleman, MSW, LCSW, director of behavioral health, discussed how the healing power of art is also used in her department. She oversees a Spanish-speaking breast cancer support group, part of our Breast Health Navigation program, that periodically enjoys art therapy workshops from a local bilingual artist, Alex Bigatti. Bigatti facilitates art projects that connect to the group members’ personal experiences living with cancer.
“[The support group members] have shared about how [art workshops have] helped with their overall wellbeing…how it has inspired them to find a creative side that either they didn’t know they had or had disconnected from,” Aleman said.
During the webinar, Bigatti demonstrated one of her art workshop projects, origami butterflies. The process of metamorphosis, she explained, showcases the courage and resilience required for growth. Viewers said Bigatti’s demonstration, which begins at 38:00 and requires only a piece of paper and scissors to create, made them feel peaceful, relaxed, and warm.
A Provider of Choice
Art in clinical settings provides extensive benefits, and such programs are often unavailable to vulnerable patient populations like ours. Zufall is proud to make art a priority in conjunction with high-quality health care and to be a provider of choice for the people we serve.
Top photo: Artist Cathleen McCoy Bristol smiles with her paintings during an opening reception at our Dover headquarters.