November 15, 2018

Collaborative artwork project connects patients

Patients, staff and physicians in the RVH dialysis unit were thrilled to see the final artwork they had a hand in creating at its unveiling on November 14.

The unique art program was led by volunteer Valiyah Khurshid over the summer with the assistance of Krista Helferty, RVH social worker. Participants, including patients, dialysis staff and members of the RVH senior administration team, each painted a small piece of wood. At the end, all were assembled into a mosaic.

“Collaborative art is not common,” said Peter Sidock, one of the patients who participated in the project and the unveiling, and an artist himself. “Different people have different ideas, so you never know how it will turn out.”

While the artwork did turn out very nicely, everyone involved in the project agreed that it had a number of positive outcomes in addition to a very special piece of art to hang on the waiting room wall.

“It was really a nice way to bring patients, staff, and senior management together to create something beautiful,” shared Chris Ferguson, RVH Vice President of Patient Care Services.

Helferty noted that patients loved the distraction and having something to do during their hours-long dialysis treatments. She said patients were “encouraged to be open minded and they really enjoyed it.”

Three mosaics have been completed to date – one by peritoneal dialysis patients, another by hemodialysis patients and the third by patients in the Pembroke satellite unit, with a fourth in the works by the satellite unit in Barry’s Bay. Khurshid, a Health Sciences and Visual Arts student, created the unique background for each framed mosaic.

Patient Clarence Hiderman said it felt pretty good to participate in the project and that he had been anxiously awaiting the unveiling “to see the piece and how it looked on the wall.”

Khurshid was excited to see the final results of the project as well. “It [the artwork project] provided an ice breaker and allowed me to get to know patients, hear their stories, and gain insights into their lives, the dialysis routine and how it affects their lives.”

The initiative served as a therapeutic activity for patients who were alone or had nothing to do during dialysis, added Dr. Amtul Musawir, RVH Nephrologist and Khurshid’s mother. “Some patients really connected and shared their life stories.”

A few of the patients who participated have since passed away, noted Janice Verch-Whittington, Clinical Manager of Nephrology, and now their piece of art will serve as a memorial of sorts on the unit.

Sheila Smith, another patient who participated in the project, admitted it was hard to picture it at the time, but now she sees that there is meaning behind every piece.

“Every piece is telling a story and that’s awesome – it puts a smile on my face. Nobody likes having to come for dialysis, but it’s nice to come and look at this – these are all the patients and all the caring staff, and it lets us know we are not alone. It connects everyone.”

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