Burr Ridge artist uses talents to heal

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After 25 years as a hospital volunteer, Burr Ridge resident Sue Kett has found a new way to serve the patients and families at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital. Kett is healing arts consultant for Adventist Midwest Health’s Healing Arts Program at Hinsdale Hospital, a service that Kett initiated just over a year ago and that is supported by the hospital. As healing arts consultant, Kett is charged with the task of using art to help patients recover and families cope.
Q. Do you have a background in art?
A. I was a computer consultant. When my youngest went to school full time, I took art classes. I did some shows. Then, I decided I really wanted to share my art with people. I taught adults and children in my home. It was there that I started to see how healing art could be.
Q. How do you bring art into the healing process?
A. Through art exhibits and events. We do art at the patient’s bedside, to help them pass the time. We had a concert series for Christmas. We had a spring concert series, as well. I would love to address the literary arts, to give patients a chance to write and share poetry. Art can reduce anxiety and sometimes even the perception of pain.
Q. What’s on display now?
A. The Freedom Appreciation Exhibit is an exhibit to honor our military families and their sacrifices. At the opening, the Hinsdale Men’s Chorus sang patriotic songs. It was a beautiful tribute. That’s what this program can do. We can really honor people.
Q. Who will be honored next?
A. There is a project some nurses are working on. It’s a photo shoot with children with special needs who have been born at our hospitals. It will be titled, “I Am Who I Am,” and will honor children born at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital, Adventist LaGrange Memorial Hospital, Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital & Adventist GlenOaks Hospital. They’re beautiful photos.
Q. How does the healing arts program help families of patients?
A. The nurses in the neonatal intensive care unit said they really needed something for the siblings. Now, when children come in, there is something fun for them to do. That helps the nurses out, too.
Q. What are your plans for the program?
A. To expand the program to all four Adventist hospitals. We are looking forward to our employee art show, sponsored by the National Arts Program, which will open in November at Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital. We’re branching out. We hope to offer more things to our caregivers. Art can be a stress reliever for them, as well.
Q. What do you need to make that happen?
A. We need more volunteers. We just need people to come in and share their love of art on a one-to-one basis.
Q. Have you personally experienced art’s healing powers?
A. I am in awe of the beauty that surrounds us that only God can create. It might be a magnificent sunset or the expression in a child’s eye. It is humbling to try to share this vision using paint. The process seems to take me to a place where I appreciate the inherent beauty in the most simple things. I find this to be extremely healing.
Q. Do you see a long future for this program?
A. I do. That’s one of the things that makes me the happiest. The hospital is providing all the support I could possibly ask for to develop this program. They see great value in the healing arts.
AMITA Health