The staff in the Behavioral Health unit at UPMC Northwest have spent years caring for some of the community’s most vulnerable individuals, those who have experienced severe trauma, various types of abuse, addiction, loss, illness and financial strain. Their goal is to look at the whole patient while treating both physical and emotional symptoms.
The recent addition of a large wall mural in the unit enhances the care provided to patients in the Behavioral Health unit on a daily basis. Because hospital environments can be somewhat sterile and uninviting, the addition of a colorful, interesting focal point can have a major impact of a patient’s mood and treatment success.
A growing amount of scientific literature supports and confirms that the conventional way hospital units are designed may be linked to increased stress levels of patients. Research supports the idea that improved physical settings can be an important tool in making hospitals safer, aid in healing, and even be better places to work.
“Our patients are very restricted in their movements while in treatment, and since this is their home sometimes for extended periods, the staff felt it important that their surroundings be as comforting and calming as possible,” says Trisha Rimpa, RN, BSN, MA, Behavioral Health clinical administrator.
Rimpa adds, “We are very appreciative that the Northwest Hospital Foundation allowed us the opportunity to add some color and joy to our unit, and provide our patients with new levels of therapy by funding this project.”
The colorful five foot by 20 foot mural, painted by local artist Deac Mong, was produced in his studio and later installed in a commons area within the Behavioral Health unit at UPMC Northwest in Seneca. “This project has been very rewarding for me as an artist, and to know that my work can help someone heal is extremely fulfilling. I am thankful that I was given the opportunity to be part of such an important endeavor for the community,” says Mong.
Born and raised in the Franklin area, Mong graduated with honors from the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale in Florida in 1980. In addition to painting many murals in local buildings such as the Venango County Courthouse, Franklin V.F.W., Eagles Club, Franklin Public Library, Amazing Foods, and many local residences, his prolific career has included producing art and design for high end hotels both nationally and internationally. Mong has also produced art that was sold in stores across the country, and his work has appeared in movies and on TV shows such as ‘The Oprah Show’.
The project was a collaborative effort between the artist and hospital staff, who proposed the idea for the mural, developed the theme for the artwork, and provided a meaningful quote that appears within the design, ‘difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations’. Sharing their ideas throughout the process, the hospital employees were able to incorporate design elements that they believed would enhance both the beauty and treatment value of the artwork.
From inception to completion, the mural has been a group process. As Rimpa explains, “Our current nurse practitioner Carolyn Williams came up with the idea for a mural while doing a clinical rotation on our unit last year.”
“When Carolyn saw Deac’s work at a local event she instantly thought of him as a possible source for the mural, and I was able to make contact with him to start the process. Behavioral Health clinician Gregg Hazlett loved the idea, and he played a large part in writing the funding request to the foundation,” adds Rimpa.
“We are thankful for Deac’s willingness to take the many ideas from those who work directly with our patients and produce a beautiful piece of art that will have a long lasting positive effect on everyone who sees it,” says Rimpa. She continues, “He was able to include small nuances such as wildlife and local outdoor scenes, like what you would see in Venango County, that can be especially beneficial to those patients not from our area and not accustomed to seeing the type of local beauty we see on a daily basis.”
Northwest Hospital Foundation and Behavioral Health staff will unveil the newest addition to their unit for hospital employees when they host an open house during Behavioral Health Awareness week in May.
Theresa Edder, Northwest Hospital Foundation executive director shares, “Our foundation’s mission is to support the work of UPMC Northwest. The benefits of this mural were seen immediately within the Behavioral Health Unit, and that is what is so special about this project.”
She concludes by saying, “It is through the generosity of our community that makes projects like this a reality for the patients at UPMC Northwest.”