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Heart of the Triangle

Music with Your Medicine - DooR to DooR Brings Artists to UNC Hospitals

by Sarah Evert I

f you have been in a hospital for any period of time, whether as the patient or there to comfort a fam- ily member or friend, you may have felt overwhelmed and weary. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to receive a private artistic performance just for you and your loved ones? Every week, the non-profit organization DooR to DooR brings performing and visual artists to the University of North Carolina Hos- pitals. Programs coordinator Joy Javits established the organization in 1993 to provide solace, healing, and hope to hospital patients, visitors, caregivers, and staff. “The initial idea,” she says, “was to bring artists of a high caliber to the patients, and to give mini-concerts in their rooms in the wish that they could forget, for however many minutes, the trials of being ill.” Javits had previous experience working with artists at Duke University Hospital, and she felt it was time to spread the “magic” to UNC hospitals. Now, over the course of each year, some 200 professional artists perform at the hospitals; they are musicians, poets, painters, actors, and more. Poet Judith Pine Bobë comically reminds patients it is never too late to dream. Suzanne Mays plays her soothing lyre for inten- sive care patients. Kate Murphy col- laborates on watercolor paintings with children in the Children’s Hospital. The artists perform both in patients’ private rooms and in the hospital lobbies. Of- ten Javits and an artist or group of artists will go into one of the wards, knock on patients’ doors, and offer their services. Most patients are pleased by the consid- eration.

“It is a therapeutic experience

on both sides,” says musician Gary Koonce, whose gentle baritone voice and guitar accompaniment brings pa-

42 NA Triangle

tients a sense of peace and inspiration. Musician Jonathan Byrd writes, in The Toughest Gig, of a particularly touching moment when Byrd played for a young woman who would shortly pass: “For the first time in my life, I knew what it felt like to be a shaman, a priest, a messenger of God, summoning up all the joy, beauty, and humanity I could manage and bringing it to people who

patients have gotten up from bed in order to participate in the performance themselves. “This one man,” says Javits, “had just gotten out of surgery, and he scared his wife, and me, when he got out of bed to dance with her.” Javits continually works to expand

the programs that the organization of- fers. In addition to the weekly perfor- mances in the hospitals, the organiza-

needed it more than anyone else in the world.”

Many have felt the difference that

music and art bring into the hospital en- vironment. The visiting friend of one pa- tient felt relief upon watching the Green Hope Jazz Band perform. She said, “I’ve been in the hospital with a friend for eleven heart-wrenching days. Watching and listening to these talented teenag- ers really lifted my spirits.” One of the resident nurses recently said, following an acoustic bass performance, “This music helps lift my spirits and helps me give better care to my patients.” Javits and DooR to DooR have

received countless words and notes of thanks. When an artist performs for a patient, they can often see the improve- ment in the patient’s mental well-being. A sad face often transforms into a bright smile. In more than one instance,

tion holds concerts and organizes a monthly drum circle in which anyone may participate. She also works closely with groups such as the UNC Volunteer Services. Javits wishes to thank the many sponsors, including the NC Arts Coun- cil and Strowd Roses, who help fund DooR to DooR; the more help the orga- nization receives, the larger the impact the artists can make. She hopes that others might also see the benefits and healing potential of bringing art to the hospitals, and that they too will support the organization’s mission.

For more information, or to donate or volunteer, contact Joy Javits at 919-929- 5355 or Visit the DooR to DooR website at www.

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