Ryerson nursing professor Jennifer Lapum has collaborated with Dr. Terry Yau, Cardiovascular Surgeon in the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at TGH, using art to humanize health care. Along with a team from Ryerson, they created an exhibit, The 7,024th Patient, to portray the experiences of open-heart surgery patients. 

Heart Art image"This project is different as it expresses the patient's point of view in a way that has never been done before," says Dr. Yau, who provided feedback to the design team from a surgeon's perspective. "It's the first time that anyone has talked to patients about their feelings and synthesized it into an artistic showcase using photography and poetry."

Jennifer, a former TGH ICU nurse, interviewed 16 patients. The first interview was two to four days after surgery and then again four to six weeks following discharge. Her main findings pointed to the need to enhance the delivery of a more humanistic approach to health care in which patients' unique attributes and the psychosocial are integrated into care. 

"Often as a practitioner in heart surgery, it's easy to get caught up in the technological routines that you almost forget it's a person in a hospital bed not just a patient," says Jennifer. "I want people to feel the depth of trauma a patient undergoes because it's not just physical but emotional too."

"We, as health care providers, only have so much time to spend with our patients, but this exhibit really gives patients a voice," says Dr. Yau. "I hope the exhibit helps health care providers to become more sensitive to the pa¬tients' concerns, rather than what we as medical staff think their concerns are."

The showcase is open to patients, families, doctors, nurses and all UHN staff June 15 and 16 at TGH's DeGasperis Conservatory (New Clinical Sciences Building, 4th floor)

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