14-week series of relaxing, healing music designed to reduce stress for patient families

SCRANTON, PA -- Geisinger Community Medical Center (GCMC) has launched a new program that brings the healing power of music to the hospital’s sickest patients and their families. The recently-launched Intensive Care Concert Series offers soothing live, musical performances in the hospital’s ICU waiting area.

Multiple studies have demonstrated that listening to music can have a relaxing effect on those suffering pain or anxiety. Music has shown to have a beneficial effect on physiological functions, slowing the pulse and heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the levels of stress hormones.

“A critical illness is almost always stressful and often life changing for our patients and their families,” said Laurie Anne Loiacono, M.D., a critical care physician who also serves as program director of Geisinger’s ICU Medicine Experience Enhancement Team. “Our team recognizes that effective medicine is as much a human art as it is a science, and requires attention to the emotional and physical needs of our patients and their loved ones beyond medication and machines. The music therapy program is just one of our efforts to bring a small measure of comfort and stress relief to our patients and their families during a challenging time.”

GCMC’s pilot program is presented in conjunction with the Lackawanna County Office of Arts and Culture and Traditional Home Healthcare as part of the ARTS HEAL program. Each performance features local musicians, including classical guitarist Jay Stevesky, flute duo Melanie Castiblanco and Emily Leyrer, the Mark Woodyatt Trio, jazz pianist Jimmy Waltich, harmonium player/pianist Brenda W. Fernandes and theremin player Jason Smetlzer. Performances are slated Tuesdays and Thursdays through December 2016.

“Art can be a powerful and positive tool for creating a space and environment for healing and coping,” said Maureen McGuigan, deputy director, Lackawanna County Office of Arts and Culture. “This project will look at using the power of music to enhance the ICU waiting room area not only for patients’ family and friends, but also hospital staff.”

“Music can reduce anxiety and promote peace in stressful situations,” said Donna Doherty of Traditional Home Health and Hospice. “Live music as an experience is so much more than something that’s beautiful to listen to when you add in the musician’s interpretation of each song and the meaning perceived by those listening.”

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