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Monday Medical: Hospital space promotes healing

Riley Polumbus/For the Steamboat Today
Karen Schulman titled this underwater photo of two Creole Wrasse fish “Caregiver.” The larger fish appears to be reaching a protective fin over the smaller fish.
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Karen Schulman titled this underwater photo of two Creole Wrasse fish “Caregiver.” The larger fish appears to be reaching a protective fin over the smaller fish.

“Life” is the title of this Karen Schulman image, taken in a slot canyon in Utah. The shape of the tree trunk inspired Schulman to think that “no matter what obstacles this tree came up against in its lifetime, it has overcome them and is so beautiful today.”

— One well-known fact about Yampa Valley Medical Center’s recent expansion is that it created more space for the delivery of newborn babies at our Family Birth Place. Other areas of the hospital also have experienced a rebirth.

Relocation of the Health Information Management department allowed YVMC to create the Outreach Clinic. Located near the visitors entrance and conference rooms, this space now is home to the Oncology Clinic and Yampa Valley Integrated Health.

Oncologists Dr. Allen Cohn and Dr. Robert Rifkin see cancer patients four days a month Thursdays and Fridays. Yampa Valley Integrated Health occupies the space Mondays and Wednesdays. Gastroenterologist Dr. John Sharp also sees patients at the clinic.

Although the scheduling and use of the space is creative, there is one consistent occupant: a collection of works by local photographers Karen Schulman and Dr. Carole Milligan.

YVMC will host an open house Wednesday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. for patients, clinic staff, YVMC employees and the public to come and view the photographs. The event will include refreshments as well as the story behind the photos and the artists.

When Schulman, a three-year cancer survivor, first went into the clinic, she saw that the walls were bare and decided to do something about it. So she approached Jan Fritz, director of cancer services for YVMC, and asked how she could help enhance the space.

Schulman also called Milligan, a friend and photography student. Milligan, a retired physician, practiced radiation oncology for 20 years. She is chairwoman of the Ethics Committee at YVMC and is a member of the Steamboat Photography Group.

If there were a name for the collection, it would be “Healing.” Schulman and Milligan chose photographs they hoped would give off some energy that would transcend to the patient.

“When someone goes into that space, they want to see something with a healing quality and be inspired,” Schulman said.

“We chose photographs that have a restful quality and lots of possibilities associated with them,” Milligan said. “The photographs draw you into them and make you feel like a door is opening.”

One of Milligan’s photographs was taken in the Aisen region of Chile in Patagonia. It looks out from a pier onto a lake. Fritz said she feels like she can walk right into the photograph.

Two Creole Wrasse fish are featured in one of Schulman’s favorites, which she took while scuba diving in the British Virgin Islands. One fish looks like it is providing comfort to the other. She named the photo “Caregiver.”

“I always like my work to have a healing quality to it,” Schulman said. “I want my work to have meaning, and I want my work to help people.”

When Fritz first approached the task of designing the clinic space, she knew she did not want it to feel like a hospital. Now, she is more than pleased with the atmosphere.

“To me, it’s a therapeutic hospital environment,” she said. “The art contributes to the healing environment for everyone who walks through the door.”

Angela Silvernail Melzer, director of Yampa Valley Integrated Health, also is excited about the feeling the photographs bring to her patients.

“The philosophy of healing with Integrated Health looks at the whole person,” Melzer said. “Artwork is an avenue for that.”

Wednesday’s open house also will provide an opportunity for the community to learn more about YVMC’s cancer services and Yampa Valley Integrated Health.

This concept of treating the “whole person,” also called a holistic approach, addresses the medical condition while considering the strengths of the individual. Integrated health takes this one step further, creating more treatment options by considering conventional and alternative methods.

Services available at Yampa Valley Integrated Health include acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy, case management, counseling/support groups, massage therapy, yoga classes and nutritional support and consultation. Melzer plans to continue adding services in the future.

More information about the Outreach Clinic is available at http://www.yvmc.org or by calling 970-875-2731.

Riley Polumbus is communications specialist at Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at riley.polumbus@yvmc.org.


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