Teen Offers Talents to Comfort Hospital Children at Lovelace Westside Hospital

She's just 18, but has the artistic talent of someone who has been painting for years and years, and, she has a big heart to share with the world. This week's Hometown Hero says she knows it can be tough going to the hospital as a kid and she's hoping she's made it easier for some.

It's not your typical hospital setting. You won't find white walls in the Inpatient Pediatric Unit's Procedure Room at Lovelace Westside Hospital. There's a reason for that. "A great idea I had is that if the nurse can say, 'Why don't you go find the green bird,?' so they can distract themselves.”

Andrea Garcia graduated from Hope Christian School in Albuquerque. Painting a mural at the hospital was her senior project, but it's more than just community service to her. She put a lot of thought into each design. "A lot of children can be scared of birds and when you're in a procedure room you don’t want these really life-like birds staring at you, so I decided to do profile birds where all you see is there shadow and shape."

Becky Gallegos, RN, is the Director of Inpatient Nursing at the hospital. She says the paintings are comforting, even beneficial. "Anytime you can make it feel less like a hospital, less scary, I think that will improve their experience," Gallegos said. She added, "It helps increase healing when you're in a comforting area."

Garcia spent countless hours painting the walls. She says she's received a lot of compliments from the nursing staff. But, to her, it's all about the kids. "Honestly, if I was a little kid in the hospital, this would be awesome for me." Garcia added.

Lovelace Westside Hospital's new Inpatient Pediatric Unit opened May 1, 2012.

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