Summey Medical Pavilion Mural

October 14, 2019
Volunteers painting mural at MUSC Summey Medical Pavilion

The MUSC Children’s Hospital Youth Patient Advisory Council (Y-PAC) and some local Charleston artists gathered at the new MUSC Children’s Health R. Keith Summey Medical Pavilion in North Charleston in September to create an interesting wall mural in the radiology waiting room.

The Youth Advisory Council toured the new building in May. They collectively agreed that the waiting space for radiology was a big, blank, boring gray wall. They also noted that it can be stressful to wait for your MRI or CT scan, not knowing what it would be like or what the outcome would be. They suggested artwork, in the form of a mural, to get kid’s minds off what was going to happen next.

The radiology team also felt the waiting room was drab and needed something inspiring and healing that would capture the interests of waiting patients and families, which led to the collaboration.

Ideas to improve the environment grew into a multidisciplinary effort. Betsy Mcmillan, manager of Child Life and advisor for the Y-PAC, worked with Katie Hinson, manager of the MUSC Health Arts and Healing Program and board-certified and registered art therapist along with Britt Bates, Arts in Healing collections coordinator, to collaborate on this project. It was important to give the youth the opportunity to participate. The radiology team welcomed the opportunity to have their space enhanced.

The group decided to create a mix of large colorful, geometric shapes for the design, incorporating colors of blue, pink, yellow, green and white on the gray wall. A recent study in Denmark found that hanging paintings, particularly abstract ones, in a hospital waiting room correlated with patient satisfaction and healing.

Charleston artist Karin Olah, known for her abstract paintings that combine fabric and thread into her scenes from the Lowcountry, described the mural being created as “intuitive whimsy.”

Olah, who grew up in Lancaster Country, Pennsylvania, earned a master of fine arts degree from Maryland Institute College of Art, where she studied fiber art. After working in several textile studios with fashion designers in New York, she settled in the Lowcountry, creating her own signature technique that utilizes fabric in the paintings.

In addition to volunteering to help create the Summey Medical Pavilion mural, she will have two pieces that will be in the new MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital. One will be in the family waiting area on the second level of the children’s hospital and the other will be on third level in the family waiting area.

Another Charleston artist who volunteered her talents to the mural project is Blakely Little. Known for her use of bright colors and beautiful scenes from the Charleston area, she felt flattered to be part of the mural team. She also will have two paintings in Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital that will be located in the third floor waiting room.

She said, “I love being part of this. I’m affected by art, and colors can change my mood and feelings. It’s just special to be asked.”

Charleston photographer Sully Sullivan also got involved by taking photographs of the Y-PAC artists at work.

The MUSC Youth Patient Advisory Council is a mix of teens from age 12 to 18, who either have a chronic illness or have experienced extended care at the children’s hospital. Teenage siblings of MUSC pediatric patients are welcome to join too. They serve as advisors and share opinions and perspectives about anything to do with both the children’s hospital and outpatient care.

Adding their painting talents to the mural was not their first artistic endeavor. They helped to spruce up the lunch area for construction workers at MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital, where they painted fun designs on picnic tables.

Learn more information about the Youth Patient Advisory Council, including how to submit an application or more about the Arts in Healing program.