By BETSY TAYLOR
SISTERS OF CHARITY HEALTH SYSTEM
When Helen Raub worked as a critical care nurse, she had a patient on a ventilator who was visibly soothed by music. When the music played, the patient "was very calm and peaceful, but it had a positive effect on me, too," said Raub.
Canton Symphony Orchestra members launch the Musical Moments concert series at Mercy Medical Center in Canton, Ohio, early this year. The trio includes Katie DeJongh on flute, Mike Koscso on cello and Laura Poper on viola.
These days, Raub serves as assistant chief nursing officer and privacy officer for Mercy Medical Center in Canton, Ohio, and her efforts to bring music more widely into the hospital helped foster a new program there, called Musical Moments. It's a series of 24 performances by Canton Symphony Orchestra musicians in the hospital's public and patient care areas. A dozen musicians are taking part in the program. Sometimes a trio plays together, then the musicians separate and move to other departments to perform solo. The performance schedule is advertised on digital signs throughout the medical center.
The musicians tailor their repertoires to the performance space. For example, a flutist, cellist and violist delivered a merry rendition of Scott Joplin's "Ragtime" in the bustling lobby; and a harpist has performed classical tunes to calm patients in the hospital's dental clinic, known as Mercy's Dental Services.
The music has a therapeutic effect, Raub said. "There are so many stressors in the hospital, if we can decrease that in any way, we will." Hospital staff researched the effects of listening to music, and found recent studies showing it reduces pain, anxiety and stress. Those effects are known to boost the immune system and speed recovery time, according to research findings.
Participating musicians are sensitive to patients who aren't in the mood to listen. (In some instances, the musicians might travel a floor and take requests from patients, but would perform away from patients who prefer quiet.)
The musicians are paid union scale. Musical Moments is funded by a grant of about $7000 from the Stark County, Ohio, arts council. The hospital plans to ask for a grant renewal to continue the program next year.
View a video about Musical Moments.
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