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Healing Arts program inspires patients

New University Hospital ER first to have art program

The new emergency room inside University Hospital at the medical center is the first to have a Healing Arts Program.
The new emergency room inside University Hospital at the medical center is the first to have a Healing Arts Program.

The new emergency room inside University Hospital at the medical center is the first to have a Healing Arts Program.

The artwork can be found on all 10 floors of the Sky Tower. Its goal is to inspire healing in patients waiting to be seen and calm loved ones there for support.

"You Activate This Space" is just one of many works of art inside. Leni Kirkman, spokesperson for University Hospital, said it was made specifically for the area.

"So we created spaces throughout the hospital where visitors, patients and even staff can take a break from this very busy, very high-tech environment," said Kirkman.

Local artist Ansen Seale created the piece. His inspiration was the hospital staff.

"Not only do they activate the hallway space, but they activate the entire hospital. Without them it would just be a bunch of machines in a big building," said Seale.

The program is unique to south Texas and Seale is grateful he can showcase his work.

"It means we can make a living here in Bexar County. It means we can provide beautiful things for the patients and the staff, so it's very gratifying," said Seale.

Dozens of staff members also helped create the healing mural. Tiles were chosen and placed in the specific areas of their choice.

Over 1,200 works of art are in the Sky Tower arts program. A sculpture called "The Flower of Hope" was created by an artist from Mexico.

The art pieces are also strategically placed. Hospital staff said they're seeing an overall improvement in patients' health.

"Patients may need less pain medication, a distraction to help lower blood pressure, and it's just a way to help reduce the overall stress of the environment," said Kirkman.

For three years, the committee worked with an art curator to select the pieces and to also help design what type of pieces go where.

The artwork was 1 percent of the new emergency room's budget, or about $8 million.