The Art of Healing

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One doctor explores the connection between art and wellness

There is a saying that medicine heals the body, art heals the soul. This concept is put into practice right here in Central Virginia at KAYA Health. The direct primary care, subscription-based medical practice on Forest Road is the brainchild of Dr. Andrew Anderson. As a man of medicine but also of his community, Dr. Anderson wanted to spark an art initiative within his office to help him go further with his patients, beyond their medical needs and delve more into their emotional ones.

“There is so much more to a patient’s well-being than I can treat as a physician. This project allows me to address more than anatomy and physiology.

Dr. Andrew Anderson

Dr. Andrew Anderson

The sentiment is summed up well in one of my favorite quotes by Dr. William Osler, co-founder of Johns Hopkins Hospital, ‘The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease,’” asserted Dr. Anderson.

So, what is this heartwarming community-focused project?

Local artists, thus far high school students, create art and positive quotes to hang on the considerable amount of wall space at the new location of KAYA Health in Forest. This has helped the business achieve two objectives simultaneously: a lifelong mission of Dr. Anderson’s to serve the community
and to decorate the walls with uplifting artwork to those who need it most.

Of course, it’s aesthetically pleasing when patients come to the office, but more so, these pieces serve as a sign of hope and are actually a gift to anyone who feels connected to a piece and wants to take it home. Originally the project was for terminal patients only, but as Dr. Anderson shared, “It is actually intended to help with a much broader and pervasive set of needs.”

He continued, “Of course, people who have severe and terminal diseases may choose a painting, but I find that they are most appreciated by those who have and are dealing with the silent and unseen illnesses that plague their everyday. We’ve given our paintings to people with depression, patients with fibromyalgia, and a woman whose mother recently passed away. It is intended for families who recently had a child diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, a disease they will carry for the next 70 years. It is intended for the newly single mother who is dealing privately with the compounding complications of a divorce.”

In a move to respond to our current emotional climate, Dr. Anderson launched a Depression Clinic, where patients certainly appreciate the art project—but is also an indicator that more art is always needed.

Dr. Anderson encourages anyone within the community to contribute art to the project, even if one doesn’t think of themself as particularly artistic.

“Just give it a try,” he suggests. To submit art to KAYA, just drop off the piece at the office anytime between 9 and 5, Monday through Friday, and they will take care of hanging it on the wall.

Photo Courtesty of KAYA Health

Photo Courtesty of KAYA Health

Preferred pieces focus on encouraging quotes or scripture with really anything painted in the background. Something that speaks to the artist and could be bright and colorful, dark and subdued, funny, inspirational—really anything goes. All submissions are welcome and appreciated.

If your family, church, scout group, or school is looking for a service project, look no further.

Dr. Anderson hopes to get more submissions, and in turn be able to share more artwork with his patients.

Patients and artists may have not connected in the past, but the office keeps a record of artist and recipient in case that connection is desired by the patient.

After a patient chooses a piece, they are able to keep the artwork forever as a gift from the community, which is part of the beauty of the project. When asked what some of the more memorable pieces of art patients have connected to are, Dr. Anderson shared, “When someone paints or draws art and chooses a quote inspired by their own experience or that of a loved one; those are powerful!”

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About Author

Rachel Dalton comes from a restaurant marketing and management background in Richmond but now is a wife, mother, writer, exercise enthusiast, very amateur chef, traveler, super planner, dog rescuer and lover of all things local to her new hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia.

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