Eisenhower Medical Center

[caption id="attachment_2009" align="alignnone" width="577"]Jeannette Debonne and Eisenhower Medical Center’s “Healing Harps” Workshops. Photos by Marilyn Chung, The Desert Sun. Images courtesy of Eisenhower Medical Center. [/caption]

Utilizing the arts as a means of healing is a growing trend among health care institutions nationwide. An outstanding example of this trend is the Arts in Healthcare Department at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California, where a team of staff members and volunteers presents arts-based complementary therapies to its community of patients.

The department offers “Healing Harps” and Native American flute workshops, hands-on visual art workshops, and musical recitals from harpists, guitarists and flutists. Artists and practitioners working with patients include fifteen musicians, four visual artists, a professional writer and four massage therapists.

Jeannette Debonne, director of the Arts in Healthcare Department, says, “We have introduced three new workshops to our services, including Healing Words—a writing workshop for cancer survivors—Healing Words for the Bereaved, and the Eisenhower Madrigal Singers, a group of professional a cappella singers who sing quietly at patients’ bedsides and who perform in the main lobby and the community.”

Debonne, also a professional harpist and a successful abstract painter, explains that studies show that patients engaged in the arts have shorter hospitals stays, demonstrate increased compliance with therapy, and enjoy greater stress relief. “The arts define our humanity. They connect us to one another and to our environment. Involvement with the arts has been my life’s work. Creativity as a way of healing is one of the highest callings I could imagine.”