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Rio Rancher Observer

Andrea Garcia,18, shows a painting in the treatment room of the Inpatient Pediatric Unit at Lovelace Westside Hospital.  

By Brad Buck/Observer Reporter

Andrea Garcia spent 30 hours a week — sometimes even coming in on weekends — to give an artistic touch to the walls at the Lovelace Westside Hospital Inpatient Pediatric Unit.

The Hope Christian School graduate, 18, draws inspiration from her teacher, Robert Millar, who lives in Rio Rancho.

She painted room numbers over each of the five patient rooms in the unit. She finished the inpatient pediatric unit in two weeks.

Garcia painted numbers with a beach theme to match the overall theme in the inpatient pediatric unit. The nurses’ station has a table top that resembles a surfboard.
“I did them pretty fast, I would say,” said Garcia.

How does she do this? “I have a picture I concoct in my head,” and she proceeds from there.

She also painted some art in the tub room.

In addition to the pediatric inpatient unit room numbers and the tub room, Garcia painted a couple of woodsy scenes in the treatment room.

One painting in the treatment room shows trees and the earth, above ground and underground. Another shows silhouetted birds in a woodsy scene.
“I wanted a magical forest theme,” Garcia said. The scene also has “happy, underground gnome creatures,” she said.

“Some kids have been traumatized by birds,” Garcia said. With simple silhouettes of birds, the kids can just look at them and have a pleasant distraction.
Garcia paints free-hand — no easy task. She doesn’t trace or use a stencil. Garcia just puts paintbrush to wall and creates.

Her artwork in the treatment room is aimed at distracting the children, who are undergoing wound treatments and such, said Rebecca Gallegos, interim director of inpatient services at Lovelace Westside Hospital.

Feedback from staff about Garcia’s artwork has been fantastic.

“The artwork adds to the color and playfulness of the unit,” Gallegos said. “Lovelace Westside Hospital has created a medically advanced unit for children that is based on a culture of compassion for patients and families. We know that being in the hospital can be scary, no matter what age you are. To that end, we have made sure this space is bright, colorful and fun. We have everything from dolls and Legos to PlayStations and DVDs to help children feel better about their stay.”

What spawned Garcia’s art project at Lovelace? Her brother, Ronnie, 25, a nurse at Lovelace, showed Garcia’s artwork to his colleagues, and they were so impressed, they put her on an internship — one she needed to graduate.

Garcia started painting in the eighth grade. “In my junior year in high school, I discovered oil painting.”

After her spending all this time trying to spruce up the pediatric unit, what’s she proud of?

“I’m proud that I did a great job and that (the nurses) loved it,” she said.

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