The Georgetown Lombardi Arts and Humanities Program promotes a holistic approach to healthcare for patients, caregivers, medical staff and visitors through the use of music, dance, expressive writing and visual arts. Professional artists-in-residence work in patient rooms, clinics, waiting rooms, hallways and conference spaces of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, helping to create an environment of realing and resilience.
From “brightening the day”, to easing anxiety, creating a calming sonic space, facilitating falling asleep to even easing transitioning, the silven strings of Karen Ashbrook’s hammered dulcimer music heal. Karen is a Certified Music Practitioner (CMP) through the Music for Healing and Transitions Program (mhtp.org) which is accredited through the National Standards Board of Therapeutic Musicians (nsbtm.org). CMPs are trained to create a healing sonic environment playing at the bedside for patients in different conditions. Karen brings over 40 years of experience playing traditional folk music and living all over the world to connect with patients, staff and visitors on a deep level, beyond words with the universal language of music. The music, neutralizes the electronic sounds and humanizes the hospital. “You made my day!” is a frequent comment she receives. Karen can be found playing soothing music in Lombardi, Pre and Post Surgery, NICU, Transfusion, Dialysis and in patients’ room in Critical Care and Bles – in short – all over the hospital!
Michelle, a writer who discovered the benefits of writing over thirty years ago when she had breast cancer, came to Lombardi in 2009. Nancy Morgan, the Director of the Arts and Humanities Program at the time, trained Michelle in expressive writing. Michelle then combined this training with her other love: mix media arts. In her effort to promote the benefits of writing and self-care, Michelle leads workshops in which staff make journals or cards using a whole range a mix media materials. When the staff makes cards, Michelle asks each participant to write an encouraging note to him/herself and address an envelope with his/her address. Michelle mails them at a later date. Staff report being surprised and pleased by the notes from their earlier selves. Additionally, during her travels, Michelle discovered Beglaris, a modern form of worry beads, which she makes with patients in the Lomabrdi waiting room - they have become a huge success. Patients and caregivers enjoy choosing from a wide variety of beads, the color of the string, and then stringing the beads themselves. Once they return to their seats, they can be seen fingering their beads while reading the meditation and information sheet they are also given. Patients have reported that the beads have reduced their stress and have brought them a great deal of joy.
Nevin Bossart has lived and worked in the Washington, DC area for over thirty-five years. Working for the Clyde’s Restaurant Group, Nevin was a chef at Clyde's of Georgetown, the Ebbitt Grill and The Tombs. Art has always been an aspect of his life from an early age. After a bout with cancer, and treatment in Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University Hospital, Nevin found painting an integral part of his recovery. Now, a twelve year survivor, Nevin has shared his love of art with cancer patients, caregivers and staff through the Georgetown Lombardi Arts and Humanities Program.
Carol learned to knit when she was about 10 years old and knit off and on until twenty some years ago. Her daughter, Emily was born with multiple congenital hearts defects and beginning at 8 days old has undergone many surgeries at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital. While Carol was with her infant daughter at the hospital, she renewed her interest in knitting and believes that it provided her with many benefits. She felt calmer, more focused and productive. When Emily was 15 years old, Carol began volunteering at MGUH and offered to teach family members to knit. Carol provides instruction and quality materials, including yarn, needles, patterns and a resource guide to patients, and family members to complete knitted items for themselves or others. She also hosts a monthly knitting session open to all staff members and was part of a research study conducted by two oncology nurses who found that knitting is a good intervention to reduce compassion fatigue among oncology nurses. Those she worked with tell her repeatedly that they are proud of themselves for learning to knit, find it to be relaxing, and that it has helped them during a difficult time.
As a certified therapeutic musician, Miriam has played her harp at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital (MGUH) for eight years. At MGUH, she plays for patients in the Lombardi Outpatient Clinic as they wait to see their doctors and also while they receive chemotherapy. Additionally, Miriam plays for the NICU, and patients in palliative care throughout the hospital. Her career as a harpist has taken her from concert stage to hospital rooms, from orchestras and musical ensembles to neo-natal units and chemotherapy infusion areas. It is while playing in hospital settings that she feels a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. When she encounter people in vulnerable situations, anxious to hear a good word from their doctors, or worried when outcomes are not what they expected, she uses her harp and her music as a way to create a calming space. Miriam invites people to enter this space, and surround themselves with music, and feel, for a brief moment, that they can cope with life's unexpected turns. Her music, and the arts in general, allow patients to release emotions and divert their focus from their physical ailments, so that they can find ways to cope and find strength and hope in the creative process.
Katie Harris Banks
Katie is an experienced registered yoga teacher with 16 years of teaching experience teaching group classes and private lessons. In her teaching, Katie strives to create a practice that is safe, yet playful and challenging. Katie's style is influenced by the flow and vigor of Ashtanga, the alignment and precision of Iyengar, and her skilled knowledge of the body from a dancer's perspective (Katie is also a professional modern dancer, dance teacher and choreographer). In addition to strengthening, stabilizing and increasing flexibility, her classes and stretch breaks focus on finding a kinesthetic awareness of one's own body, stress relief and creating an enjoyable and sustainable practice to promote general well-being. Katie takes a light hearted, yet sincere approach in her teaching and hopes to inspire people to enjoy movement and the benefits it can bring to daily life.
Keira Hart-Mendoza received her MFA from Arizona State University where she graduated summa cum laude. She has since worked as a professional educator and choreographer. She has taught dance at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville VA, Coppin State University in Baltimore MD and currently teaches dance at Montgomery College in MD. Keira also teaches dance for professional artists in the DC Metro area at the Dance Exchange in Takoma and at Toolbox Pilates & Art Studio in Dupont Circle. Keira also brings dance into unlikely settings and has been working as a Resident Movement Artist at Georgetown University Hospital since 2013. She has had the wonderful opportunity to teach doctors, nurses, and staff at the hospital a variety of movement forms to help improve hospital morale and care for caregivers.
Anthony Hyatt is a violinist and multimedia teaching artist who works with many health care and senior service providers in the Washington DC area. His longest affiliation, since 1997, is with the nonprofit Arts for the Aging organization under whose auspices he leads creative engagement programs at adult care facilities and for whom he co-directs the Quicksilver senior citizen improvisational dance company. He has co-led teaching artist training programs for the National Center for Creative Aging and other organizations. Anthony is an artist-in-residence for the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital’s pediatric, cancer and palliative care programs. He also is co-teacher of the weekly Dance for PD® class that is offered at the IONA Senior Services center. Anthony is honored to be a colleague of the USA based Creative Education Foundation and a leader for other affiliated international organizations like CREA in Europe and Mindcamp in Canada. He does additional creativity consulting and facilitation work through his own organization: Moving Beauty.
As an artist-in-residence, Lauren works with patients, caregivers and staff in the hospital to provide creative, engagement projects and mindfulness activities to help cope with the stresses and transformations of serious illness. The secret of this work is always to regards the patient as a whole person, not a diagnosis and to accept lovingly who they are today. At her table in the Oncology clinic, patients can create beaded bracelets, write on a prayer flag, make origami cranes, or sew small quilts embellished with designs to aid in mindfulness. Whatever the project, it is an excuse to sit together at a table long enough for conversation to happen naturally. Stories are shared of personal history, of family, of fear about diagnosis, of resilience. Making something like a bracelet can give a bed-ridden patient a chance to feel powerful and useful again. Sometimes a guided meditation is more suited to these patients’ need to ease pain and allow deep relaxation and a healing mental state. Touching base with family members to acknowledge their whole person is a way to serve the patient. In all these places, the common healing tool is presence.
Nancy Morgan is Director Emeritus of the Arts and Humanities Program and Expressive Writing Clinician at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C. She became a member of Georgetown’s adjunct faculty in 2105. As Writing Clinician, she has led writing workshops since 2001 for individuals and groups to manage the emotional impact of cancer. She is conducting research to assess the relationship between writing and emotional and physical well-being and is a Principle Investigator of the study, Implementing an Expressive Writing Study in a Cancer Clinic, published in The Oncologist (2008). Currently, she is a member of the Walk A Mile research study team, introducing reflective writing to medical students and nurses to help improve role clarity. She has led workshops on writing and health and presented talks on arts in healthcare in the U.S. and abroad.
Martha is a Certified Music Practitioner through the Music of Healing and Transition Program, which teaches guidelines for prescriptive repertoire for the chronically ill, acutely ill, elderly and actively dying. As a musician and visiting artist with the Arts and Humanities Program, Martha plays acoustic cello music for individual patients in their rooms and in specialty units (Chemo Infusion, Lombardi clinic, Radiation Oncology, PACU, Dialysis, NICU and wherever needed) within the hospital. Her music is a service for patients, with the emphasis on the patient’s condition and needs. It is the patient’s option to agree to hear the music or not, giving them something over which they have control. It is the combination of sound and vibration when played by an experienced therapeutic musician that creates the difference in emotional and physical well-being of the patient, whether to calm, stabilize blood pressure and heart rate, relieve anxiety, or create a tranquil atmosphere. Martha is able to revise the music as the mood and condition of the patient change. This is one of the benefits of live music vs. recorded music. The music can create a distraction from the medical situation for the patient, bringing relaxation and diminishing stress; also going beyond the patient’s needs and being heard in the environs of the room and unit by visitors and hospital staff, resulting in a calmer scenario for all.
Claire Wagner is known throughout MedStar Georgetown University Hospital as “the Knitter” because she can solve any problem that involves yarn or thread. Claire has worked in the hospital for many years with patients, and staff. She holds a weekly clinic in the Arts and Humanities office.
Alison Waldman is a dance artist and teacher specializing in movement for all ages and abilities. She is a certified Workplace Wellness instructor and a longtime performer and facilitator of dance in community and non-traditional spaces. Alison regularly performs and choreographs and can be found spontaneously performing or teaching in public spaces throughout the D.C. area. As a Resident Movement Artist, Alison provides weekly midday stretch breaks for the hospital's medical, technical, administrative and building staff. These short sessions focus on breath, alignment and dynamic movement to give relief to common areas of tension, strength to muscles needed to stay physically alert, and space for self-care. She also collaborates with fellow resident artists to bring performance events to the hospital for patients, staff and visiting families alike.
Pure, simple and endearing, Tamara's voice can be convincing in almost in genre of music from gospel to dance. She has had a profoundly diverse career as a performer and a recording artist that she shares whole-heartedly with the MedStar Georgetown hospital community through the Arts and Humanities Program at Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. I love singing one to one in the rooms and connecting with patients. To me, it’s a sacred exchange of gratitude and emotional wellness.
The professional musicians, dancers, expressive writers and visual artists currently work only a few hours per week due to program budgetary constraints. Through your generous support, the artist of your choice will be able to spend more time servicing the community at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital (MGUH). Please consider donating to the Georgetown Lombardi Arts and Humanities Program to support artists-in-residences and their work throughtout MGUH.