Nurses Use Artistic Talents to Improve Patient Experience

Sarah Kearns, for HealthLeaders Media , September 29, 2009

This past summer, nurses Mary Cohn and Annette Bargmann of Anne Arundel Medical Center (AAMC) in Parole, MD, visited patient rooms armed not with medication, but with acrylic paint.

AAMC is undergoing a series of renovations that have necessitated many windows in the acute care pavilion being covered with a film to darken the windows to shield patients from the occasional glare of the construction equipment and provide more privacy. This film has replaced the natural light flooding into patient rooms and has created a gloomy atmosphere.

Cohn and Bargmann decided to put their artistic abilities to the test and decorate the windows covered by the films. They wanted to use images and designs that would not only cheer up the patients, but the nurses as well. Scenes with animals, sailboats, and lighthouses, in keeping with the city's maritime heritage, provided a more cheerful atmosphere for the patients and staff members.

Cohn and Bargmann used acrylic paints for their window art and worked whenever they had a spare minute. At times a passing physician or nurse would be asked to help, or if Cohn started a piece, Bargmann would finish it, or vice versa.

The window paintings are located on the sixth-floor special care unit, the third-floor critical care unit, and other floors with covered windows are requesting some window art of their own.

Staff, patients, and family members have all said the window paintings have been successful in improving the atmosphere.

Sarah Kearns is an editor for HCPro in the Quality and Patient Safety Group. Contact Sarah at

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