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Health Center Today, November 23, 2010

Patient Uses Creative Channel to Give Back to Health Center

From the November 2010 issue of Our Moment, the UConn Foundation's e-newsletter.

By Michael Nocella, UConn Foundation

Photo of Brenda Baker

Brenda Baker created and donated three art pieces to hang in a surgery waiting and recovery room for children and adults.

Photos by Janine Gelineau

Sitting in a waiting room can be an anxious, nerve racking experience. This is especially true if you are a child waiting for a surgical procedure. However, it could be worse. Even if it’s only your subconscious taking notice, peaceful and calming pieces of art on the walls in the waiting room can help keep you placid until your name is called.

Thanks to Brenda Baker, such pieces of art are located in the dermatology office’s surgical waiting room at the UConn Health Center. Baker created and donated three art pieces to hang in a surgery waiting and recovery room for children and adults.

The state-of-the-art dermatology office, opened last year just around the corner from the main Health Center campus, gives UConn experts a new home in which they will continue to provide advanced medical, surgical and cosmetic services. Thanks to Baker, they get to wait for surgery in a room with beautiful, colorful and uplifting images of children.

Inspired from personal experience and putting herself in the shoes of her potential audience, Baker created three whimsical paintings that infuse the room with positive energy.

“During the opening of the building, my husband and I went on a tour of the clinic. We came upon a room which is used as a waiting room for melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer surgery patients and is often used for children. The room struck me as very nice, but quite institutional and lacking color,” says Baker.

The talented artist has good reason to understand just what the room needed. As a patient of Dr. Jane Grant-Kels, who specializes in the early diagnosis of malignant melanoma, Baker has a connection with fellow patients, having been diagnosed with melanoma.

Grant-Kels was delighted when Baker mentioned that she was willing to create works specifically for the dermatology surgery waiting room.

“We have lots of art on our walls donated to us by our patients. It enhances the beauty of our offices both for our patients and the care-providers,” says Grant-Kels. She also commented on how the three-piece set has added a calming presence to the office.

“Art is a wonderful medium and can transform a room into a friendly, welcoming place rather than a cold or frightening space. Art, like music, can be very soothing to our patients,” says Grant-Kels.

Recalling her first impression of the state-of-the-art facility, Baker remembered in particular a very large open wall space and how perfect it would be for a set of murals that would not only ease the tension of the children, but their parents as well. The colorful paintings depict amusing scenes.

“I wanted to take a different approach to your everyday waiting room paintings. It was important for me to create relative images that would attract, and distract, child patients,” says Baker.

The three paintings, each of which hangs 4 feet by 5 feet, depict a child waiting in a waiting room. The first captures a teenage boy listening to his iPod, seemingly on the way to baseball practice. The second painting centers on a pre-teen girl between ballet lessons and basketball practice. Finally, the third painting shows a second grade student with a bandage, clutching a stuffed dinosaur sporting an identical outfit. Grant-Kels says the trio rarely goes unnoticed.

“Ms. Baker is a wonderful artist and we are extremely grateful to her for her generosity. Already many of our patients have commented on the beautiful new art in our facility,” says Grant-Kels.

This special gift will continue to give by creating a positive aura in a space that calls for one. Baker notes there is plenty of room for more art in medicine.

“It is my hope that my gift will inspire other artists to donate their works to UConn’s facilities, to look at spaces needing decoration, and expressing their gratitude through art,” says Baker.

For more information about supporting the UConn Health Center, please contact the UConn Foundation’s development department.

Photo of Brenda Baker's artwork