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Nurses Use Art Skills to Brighten up CCI During Construction

Angelica Less, RN, and Wendy Van Loan, RN, in front of the mural they painted in the CCI lobby.

Wendy Van Loan, RN, believes art is a therapy that should be worked into medicine whenever possible. That’s why she said “yes” when a fellow caregiver at the John T. Vucurevich Cancer Care Institute (CCI) asked if someone could transform a temporary blank wall into a piece of art.

CCI is undergoing construction that has temporarily condensed and changed the feel of the lobby, where some patients sit for over an hour in between blood work, chemotherapy and other appointments. Once caregivers realized how the construction had impacted the overall feel of the waiting area, they jumped on the opportunity to provide a more pleasant experience for patients.

Wendy, a self-described introvert, was initially shy about volunteering herself. But when Kristi Gylten, Director of CCI, asked if she could transform the wall, she couldn’t turn down the opportunity to make a positive impact. Wendy is an artist in her spare time, and she currently has artwork on display at Shaviq Boutique & Art Gallery in downtown Rapid City.

“I knew that it would be fun, and it would hopefully bring a little bit of color into the room,” Wendy said. “I thought it would make people happier to see something light-hearted, something that maybe makes them smile and think of spring, which is really fun to think about right now.”

When Angelica Less, RN, heard about Wendy’s endeavor, she wanted to help. Before going back to school to be a nurse, Angelica received a degree in art. She enjoyed the opportunity to use her art skills in a medical setting. “I don’t get to practice a lot of creativity from day-to-day; the job is mainly very linear. This was a chance fix a problem using a creative solution.”

Wendy and Angelica found a Saturday that worked with their schedules, and came in for over five hours to paint a beautiful spring-like mural on the once-blank wall. “We didn’t go into it with a huge plan,” Angelica said. “We just started painting and saw what developed.

Wendy, who has been a nurse with Regional Health since 1990, added that the project was different than any she’s done before, because she knew it would eventually be destroyed in the construction process. “I’ve never really done anything that I knew would be destroyed. It was kind of fun. It takes a lot of pressure off because you know you don’t have to be perfect.”

But for now, patients and caregivers are enjoying the new scenery.

“I love our patients and I really value their experience here,” said Angelica. “Nursing’s not just the medical side of things; it’s the social-emotional, too, so this added to that overall purpose of providing comfort to the patient.”

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