Parkland Health & Hospital System - Dallas County Hospital District

02/27/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 02/27/2019 10:45

Parkland brings comforting images of the sea to Garland Health Center’s pediatric patients

Posted: 2/27/2019

Local artists' colorful designs adorn clinic

Most children are not thrilled when it's time for a check-up or doctor visit. But youngsters visiting Parkland Health & Hospital System's Garland Health Center are now in for a pleasant surprise. Parades of penguins, flotillas of jellyfish and other colorful sea creatures now 'float' on wall panels recently installed in pediatric clinic exam rooms, to the delight of young patients.

The colorful artwork, custom-designed for the Parkland clinic, was crafted by Richardson-based Character Farms, a company led by Mark Sullivan and Ernesto 'Ernie' Pacheco that specializes in creating themed artwork for medical, dental and retail environments.

'Some of the biggest challenges we face with pediatric patients and their families is avoiding fear and creating a positive experience,' said Raul C. Rodriguez, MD, Lead Pediatrician at Parkland's Garland Health Center. 'When families visit the doctor, they are worried about possible medical issues. An unfamiliar and intimidating environment can add to their stress.'

With this in mind, Dr. Rodriguez and Herron Mitchell, site administrator for Parkland's Garland and Vickery health centers, wanted to a way to help pediatric patients feel more at ease during their visits.

Findings by pediatric experts at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center suggest simple techniques can make a difference in a child's clinical experience. Their findings also suggest age-appropriate distractions help manage pain, build trust between the staff and patients and may help achieve more positive overall experiences and health outcomes.

'To achieve our goal we decided to decorate the pediatric clinic space with artwork,' Mitchell said. 'However, as a health organization, we had a few challenges to bring our idea to life. We needed to find artists willing and able to create art suitable for a pediatric medical setting, along with funding to make it possible.'

After sharing the idea with a few people, Mitchell received a promising lead. 'One of our colleagues suggested we contact Character Farms,' he said. 'We liked what we saw.'

Pacheco and his team were excited by the opportunity. 'We were thrilled with the idea of working with Parkland,' Pacheco said. 'We knew we had to create something unique and special.'

Sullivan and Pacheco presented several options for the clinic's potential makeover. Among the preliminary concepts were fairytale, animal and sea themes. Ultimately, the aquatic scape featuring brightly-hued images of frolicking fish, seals, penguins and other sea creatures was chosen.

A grant from the Parkland Foundation set the project in motion and the Character Farms team began their work.

Sullivan and Pacheco's team surveyed the clinic space and designed artwork that later was printed on custom removable panels made of laminated medical grade polyvinyl chloride (PVC), suitable for medical environments.

'Organizations that regulate health institutions have very specific health and safety requirements,' Sullivan said. 'Materials used on floors, walls and ceilings are required to be non-absorbing and easily cleanable. Our company works with these materials to make sure the final artwork is compliant,' Pacheco added.

In late January, the colorful panels were installed in the pediatric clinic's 13 rooms and hallways.

Soon after the artwork made its debut, Laura Owen, 24, of Garland, and her son Jameson visited the clinic for Jameson's 18-month medical appointment. At first glance the toddler seemed timid and wary. As soon as he noticed the orange octopus and pink jellyfish on the wall his demeanor changed.

'Look at his smiling face,' Owen told the nurse with excitement. 'I thought he would be too young to notice the characters, but it's really making a difference. No tears today.'

Sullivan and Pacheco said they hope their artwork makes clinic visits more pleasant for Parkland's smallest patients and their families.

'We live for the patient's reactions,' Pacheco said.

'We hope the beautiful artwork really makes the patient experience easier and more enjoyable,' Dr. Rodriguez added.

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