After an application process and a two-week-long public voting period, UF’s Shands Arts in Medicine program and the Shands Jacksonville Medical Center were named LIVESTRONG Foundation grant recipients last week.
Dr. Mark McIntosh, Shands Jacksonville Integrative Palliative Care medical director, said the foundation will distribute about $1 million to 72 nation-wide organizations committed to supporting cancer patients and their families.
The Shands Arts in Medicine program in Gainesville will receive $15,000, which will go toward expanding and developing creativity workshops at the hospital, said Dylan Klempner, graduate programs adviser.
As an artist-in-residence who holds two master’s degrees in fine arts, Klempner said he will facilitate the workshops and enhance a program he started in 2011 called The Mobile Inspiration Station. With his cart filled with art supplies, he gives cancer patients a chance to make paintings, write poems and play instruments at their bedside.
The $10,000 awarded to the Palliative Care program in Jacksonville will help the hospital participate in the Joint Commission’s Advanced Certification Program, which ensures a standard of quality across various hospitals, McIntosh said.
“We made a push and outreach to the Gainesville community to support our cause,” he said.
The palliative care specialty grew out of the hospice movement. It provides psychosocial, spiritual, communication and symptom support to patients of all ages diagnosed with life- threatening diseases.
McIntosh said the program at Shands Jacksonville has seen about 1,100 participants each year since it opened about three years ago.
“It’s not just about the high-tech. It’s about the high-touch as well,” McIntosh said. “We are very concerned about patient and family care.”
Sarah Johnson said Shands is doing a great job reaching out to cancer and palliative care patients. The 21-year-old UF linguistics junior has been involved with Streetlight at Shands for more than a year, which has allowed her to develop relationships with young adults battling life-threatening illnesses.
Johnson was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia her junior year of high school and has been in remission for four years.
“Regardless of whether it’s me or another volunteer who isn’t a cancer survivor, the patients and their families are just really happy that we took the time out of our day to hang out with them because all they really want is a sense of normalcy,” Johnson said.