The Art of Healing

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Some people -- even scientists -- believe art has the power to heal.

    It's why the new Baylor Sammons Cancer Center in Dallas built a healing garden. Amid the clatter and busyness of the urban hospital, the healing garden can bring it a bit of calm to patients, their families and the people who work there.

    Healing Garden Helps Hospital Patients

    [DFW] Healing Garden Helps Hospital Patients
    Baylor Cancer Society in Dallas has built a healing garden to help patients and family members dealing with illness. (Published Thursday, May 26, 2011)

    "Hospitals are at best, frightening, and at worst, terrifying,” designer Jonathan Wayne said.

    And there is research-backed proof that healing gardens can make a difference.

    “All the evidence-based research has shown that in a healing garden, within three minutes of sitting in a healing garden, someone will have a reduction in anxiety, an actual reduction in blood pressure. They'll have an increased sense of well-being, and they'll actually have an enhanced immune system function," Wayne said.

    There is speculation that a certain bacteria in soil that, when inhaled, increases serotonin levels, acting as a natural antidepressant.

    "There is no doubt that art has healing powers, and what it does for the patients is that it takes them to a place they would rather be than here," said Donna Bowers, the center's vice president of oncology. "It gives them something to look forward to."

    People who work in hospitals with healing gardens and beautiful art tend to come to work more often and stay in their jobs longer.

    The hospital carefully planned the artwork inside as well, asking patients to choose designs they found most soothing.

    "I have not met a patient yet that has not fallen in love with the cancer center,” Bowers said. “They love being here, they love the designs, and they love the artwork.”

    "I think it's just important for anyone who is designing a health care facility to keep art in mind," Bower said. "It plays a significant role for the patients and the families, and it shouldn't be forgotten."