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Women help hospital patients through "Arts in Medicine"

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Photo: Kathryn Daniel

The next time you visit someone in the hospital you might hear live, classical music coming from patients' rooms. You may even come upon a "Poetry for Lunch" event.

Using the liberal arts alongside traditional healing methods is known as "Arts in Medicine." Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast in Destin has one of the premier "Arts in Medicine" programs in Florida.

Robin Horne has been playing music since the fourth grade. The classically trained flutist made her living playing in symphonies and teaching.

These days she uses her talent and instrument to bring peace and healing.

"Some are overjoyed to have something different happen in the room than the usual," said Horne.

For the last three years she's played for patients at Sacred Heart on the Emerald Coast.

She explained, "Some of them will actually go to sleep while I'm playing. Some of them will say that it eased their pain."

Sharon Abele heads up art outreach at Sacred Heart. The program was started through a major grant from the University of Florida, a national leader in Arts in Medicine.

"Nobody wants to come to a hospital. If you have to be in a hospital, to be able to have someone come into your room and play music for you, we bring artists to the bedside. Some people tell us they've never painted until they came to our hospital," outlined Abele.

Each month Sacred Heart associates are treated to an "Art with Amy" lunch lesson.

Abele explained, "Our Arts and Medicine program is just as much for our staff as it is for our patients and their families."

For four years accomplished professional Destin artist Amy Fogg has been holding lunchtime art classes for associates. Christi Powell was at the very first "Art with Amy" session and has only missed a handful since.

"I love the relaxation, the inspiration for doing projects at home," said Powell.

Powell said that through the art lessons, she's made new friends in a stress free, creative environment. Fogg said that's all part of her mission.

"There's something therapeutic about putting that paintbrush on the canvas and playing around with the colors and coming up with something you finally like," she said.