Hospital uses the arts to heal

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Inside the waiting rooms at Baton Rouge General Hospital, you'll find the usual items to keep patients and their families occupied.  Old magazines are stacked on coffee and end tables; a few folded newspapers draped over the top.  To the side you may find a 500 piece puzzle waiting to assemble a bright picture of flowers in a landscape far away.

On some days, however, you'll also hear the rhythmic thrum, thrum, thrum of Mary Malloy's guitar as she tunes it for a song.

"We all know intuitively that music affects us. It has affect on our physical self. It can affect heart rate; it can affect our breathing rate," said Malloy who is a musical therapist.

Malloy is a part of the hospital's Arts in Medicine program in which the hospital uses music and art to help patients cope, relax and even heal.

"The majority [of patients] are sad, terrified, and anxious," said oncologist Dr. Gerald Miletello.  "Anything we can do to get their mind off their treatment and their disease is a good thing."

"As part of the arts and medicine program I also just roam the floors, I work with the kids in pediatrics. I work with the burn unit with the little bitty kids. I go into the ICU sometimes and provide patients and family members as a way of comfort," explained Malloy about her traveling concert.

The hospital also offers chances for patients to paint.  That was a great relief for artist Muriel Prejean.

Prejean has a condition in which her eyelashes grow back into her eye, scratching and scaring her cornea and creating tremendous pain.  For a year she was unable to do what she loved most, paint.

Her treatment for the condition includes one a month infusions that take up six hours to complete.  It was during one of her sessions that she was introduce to the Arts in Medicine program.

"She came around trying to get the patients to draw or do some kind of art or crafts. I told her I'm an artist. She said, 'Oh good, you're painting today.' I said, 'I can't.' She said, 'Yes you can.' So, she put everything in my lap and gave me a canvas and I looked once and I was driven to paint. I couldn't wait to finish once I got started," said Prejean.

"I think your mental well being leads to your recovery. Stress is the worst thing you can do for an illness," said Miletello who believes the program has done wonders to help out patients.

The program began through a grant the hospital received last year.  The program is up for a second grant through the Livestrong foundation.  That grant will be awarded to the candidate with the most online votes by Thursday, March 28.

Cast your vote today for Baton Rouge General's Arts in Medicine program in the Livestrong online voting campaign at

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