Oakwood celebrates art, healing with annual employee exhibit

Denise Sakowicz knows first-hand the healing power of art.

When her mother-in-law, Stella, was rehabbing from a heart attack, pulmonary embolism and knee replacement surgery at Oakwood Heritage Hospital last year, she learned that her grandson had entered two works in the Employee Art Exhibit put on by the Oakwood Arts in the Spirit program every year. Since it and other works were on display in the hospital, she asked if she could go down and see it—and learned that one of the pieces, Trails to Chicago, earned second place in the intermediate category. She was soon boasting of her grandson’s achievement and the quality of the exhibit to anyone who came into her room.

“It really lifted her spirits and gave her something to focus on while she was recuperating,” said Denise Sakowicz, a medical technician in the Transfusion Services Department at the Oakwood Hospital & Medical Center in Dearborn. “The Arts for the Spirit is a wonderful program that really helps patients and families in the healing process while they are hospitalized.”

That is part of the plan, said Sandra Baughman, coordinator of the Arts for the Spirit (AFTS) program for Oakwood Healthcare. The employee art exhibit is just aspect of the program, which seeks to promote an atmosphere of healing and comfort for patients, visitors and staff members of the four acute-care hospitals within the Oakwood system. She said it’s integral to the Oakwood commitment to comprehensive health care, which means healing the mind and spirit as well as the body. Hospital halls play host to a number of art exhibits throughout the year, she said. The employee exhibit runs through September.

“We’ve long believed in the healing power of art at Oakwood,” said Baughman. “We want to create an environment that helps heal the human spirit, as well as the body.”

The Employee Art Exhibit is in its sixth year now, and has partnered with the National Arts Program for five years. It is open to Oakwood employees, volunteers and their family members. This year, 98 budding artists submitted a total of 175 pieces in all different mediums.

“Our first exhibit had 36 participants,” said Baughman. “Participation has steadily increased each year.”

For a complete list of winners and to view digital images, visit http://www.oakwood.org/art.

ABOVE: Joe Diederich, executive vice-president and chief operating officer of Oakwood Healthcare, congratulates the winners of the 2011 Employee Art Exhibit.

Rosemary Bunea, a staff nurse in the Emergency Department at Oakwood Southshore Medical Center, won 1st Place in the Intermediate Category for her painting entitled "Ron Firefighter,” which is of her son, Ron, a paramedic at the Oakwood Hospital & Medical Center.