It all started in 2004 when a grand piano was placed in the lobby of Parker Adventist Hospital and volunteers would play from time to time. It wasn’t an intentional program, but the music was a beautiful addition to the hospital’s healing environment. That was the humble beginning of the Healing Arts program that now blesses more than 50,000 patients, family members and hospital staff in Centura’s Avista, Castle Rock, Littleton, Parker and Porter Adventist Hospitals each year.

The Healing Arts program now encompasses music, massage and visual arts as an extension of the hospitals’ mission to extend the healing ministry of Christ. The program has become a valuable means of establishing caring connections between the various hospitals and their surrounding communities.

In establishing the Healing Arts program, Centura joins a growing number of hospitals around the world that incorporate the arts into the delivery of healthcare. In fact, there is empirical evidence that the arts have the potential to provide medical benefits to patients by eliciting positive psychological responses. Today, more than 20 certified music practitioners  and countless volunteers bring their unique artistic talents to all areas of care in Centura hospitals.

“If there’s a need, you’ll find someone there,” says Jude Keller, director of the Healing Arts program. “On any given day, we might have a harpist playing music for premature infants in the neonatal ICU; keyboardists playing music for children and families; a guitarist playing classical guitar in the pre-op area for patients awaiting surgery; and a cello player providing therapeutic music for patients facing end-of-life challenges. Basically we blanket every stage of life with healing music.”

One patient who enjoyed a visit from a therapeutic music practitioner said, “Her beautiful music for once let me relax and forget all the things that are wrong with my body. It was so relaxing and soothing. It made me find a smile through my pain.”

One of the most popular aspects of the Healing Arts program is the provision of therapeutic massage to patients who feel anxious and alone. The healing power of touch has many proven health benefits. It can lower blood pressure, improve sleep patterns, and even boost the immune system. Best of all, it relieves patients’ anxiety and takes their minds off their pain, for which they are deeply grateful.

“Through massage, we are able to remind the body that it can feel good again while providing a human presence and caring touch during challenging moments,” says Cheryl Johnson, LMT, a massage therapist at Porter Adventist Hospital.

One of the more recent additions to Centura’s Healing Arts program is the creation of art galleries at each of the five campuses where walls are graced with stunning artwork that reflects the beauty of Colorado. The nature-based art is providing a venue for local schools, organizations and artists to display their artwork, while fostering close relationships with community members.

The cost of providing the services of certified music and massage practitioners is paid by the Rocky Mountain Adventist Healthcare Foundation, which is funded by the generous donations of community members. In giving, they receive, and the beautiful circle of caring and giving continues to transform lives through beauty and touch.