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Inspiring patient mobility through art

Julia Lefler
March 20, 2020
Bird above fence with insect
On the Fence, a photograph by W. L. Howard Jr., R.N., was selected for the Art Walk. Howard works in the joint replacement unit. Photograph courtesy of the artist.

Encouraging patients to get up and move after surgery helps to prevent complications, such as blood clots, and improves overall mental health by building confidence. This is particularly important for patients who have undergone joint replacement as they learn they can put weight on a new joint. 

To encourage patients to move after surgery, an interdisciplinary team of nurses and care team managers in the 10 East joint replacement unit recently launched an art walk. Works of art are used as focal points in the hallways to provide incentives for patients to move toward their established mobility goals.

“This is about getting up and moving,” said Sandra Fox, R.N., nurse manager of the unit.

“This is orthopedics. We take something that’s broken and put it back together,” said Mickey Haryanto, R.N., program manager of the MUSC Health Joint Replacement program. “This is about getting people back to their lives again.”   

Haryanto and Fox’s desire to do something for 10E that would meet the mission of mobility for their patients sparked the project. They approached Katie Hinson, manager of the Arts in Healing Program at MUSC Health. Together, these project champions came up with the idea for the art walk.

“This is orthopedics. We take something that’s broken and put it back together. This is about getting people back to their lives again.”

-- Mickey Haryanto, R.N., program manager, Joint Replacement program

The team presented the idea at the 2019 Innovation Summit. Impressed by their vision, Stephanie Brown, program manager for the Office of Innovation, soon joined the effort. Sarah Bacik, MUSC Health chief strategic planning and business development officer, funded the project.

The team’s first step was to locate compelling works of art, and for that they turned to their own unit.  They asked for photograph submissions from physicians, nurses and other staff. Then a committee consisting of a board-certified art therapist, music therapist and two members from a patient-family advisory council chose the final eight pieces of art that are currently on display.  

 With a total of 111 submissions of art from the care team community, Fox and the rest of the team were amazed by the talent within their unit. 

“These care team members are completely talented, and we had no idea,” said Fox. “And one of the biggest takeaways from this project was seeing how much our team cares about patients.”

Shells on beach 
By the Seashore, a photograph selected for the art walk. The artist is Katharine Gerweck, a nurse on 10E. Photograph courtesy of the artist.

“Even our physicians have been extremely excited about it,” said Hinson. “It’s really been something that’s brought everybody together and highlighted unique ways to take care of patients.”

Before they undertook the project, the team performed extensive research on how the hospital environment affects patient recovery. For example, one study out of the Cleveland Clinic found that more than 60% of patients reported that stress related to illness and recovery was reduced when they were exposed to collections of art, natural images and abstract designs.

“These care team members are completely talented, and we had no idea. And one of the biggest takeaways from this project was seeing how much our team cares about patients.”

-- Sandra Fox, R.N., 10E nurse manager

The team hopes to collect some data of its own with the help of the College of Nursing. They will partner with Krista Stansik, R.N., Teresa Stephens, R.N, Ph.D., and Julianne Miller, R.N., to measure whether patient mobility outcomes improve due to the art walk.   

Haryanto is confident that improving mobility will not be the only benefit of the project.

“It’s not just the physical aspect of this project that’s so exciting.” said Haryanto. “There’s so much going through patients’ minds when they’re at the hospital. It can be difficult to gain confidence to walk again after having a joint replaced. Seeing how much thought and care that went behind those photos is an important reminder to patients of how much support they have from their care team.” 

The team hopes that this innovative idea will be implemented in other units around MUSC. 

“The art walk project is a product of hard work from a diverse team of faculty, staff and students with the singular goal of improving patient care,” said Brown. “That’s what I liked the most –the excitement behind just one spark of inspiration that we can grow into something bigger. To me that’s the MUSC way.”

Boats and Pier in Charleston, SC 
Charleston Landscape, a photograph by Lisa Peters, M.S.N., R.N., selected for the art walk. Peters works in the 10E unit. Photograph courtesy of the artist.

About the Author

Julia  Lefler

Keywords: Fitness and Wellness