CalArts students mix creativity and medical care to launch new program

Image courtesy of Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital and California Institute of the Arts.

Students from the California Institute of the Arts have partnered with Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital and Reimagine Well to launch a new program that aims to offer support to palliative care or end-of-life patients.

The online program offers patients in palliative care and their families support to reduce stress and anxiety by tapping into the creative side of each individual person. Those who utilize this program are able to partake in activities that can help with self-care and create memories with loved ones.

“This is a unique collaboration between Henry Mayo and CalArts,” said Patrick Moody, director of marketing and public relations at the hospital. “This is one of the most inspiring stories I’ve ever worked on in my entire career.”

The program was brought to life through a course offered at CalArts called Healthcare by Design and consisted of 16 students who collaborated with health care clinicians and Reimagine Well, an organization that develops programs to immerse patients in unique experiences during treatment.

Lauren Gonzales, graduate student at the CalArts School of Dance, said she contributed to the caregiver and families section of the program. “This particular section addresses both the caregiver’s and the family’s psychological and physical health. This was something that really stood out for me.”

Each student in the course contributed creative designs to build the web page and worked with clinicians to help develop the activities patients and families can do together, which can help ease the stress of living in, or knowing someone in, palliative care.

Some activities recommended in the program include quiltmaking, building a time capsule and creating a cookbook filled with a patient’s recipes.

“(The activities) give people the chance to leave a lasting legacy for others by creating little gifts so loved ones can open on a special day,” said Natalie Ferguson, graduate student at the CalArts School of Theater.

The program offers a wide variety of resources, such as educational modules to help people understand palliative care or chronic illnesses, grief counseling and creative activities that can help families honor and remember loved ones.

“This is not an initiative we’ve created to monetize,”said Roger Holzberg, co-founder of Reimagine Well and faculty member at CalArts. “It’s an initiative we created to make the patient-family journey a little bit easier.”

For more information on palliative care at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, visit

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