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Harpists offer healing touch through music at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 28 2014 3:08 p.m. MST

McKayla Kreutzkamp, 15, is a volunteer harpist at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. People listen to her play for a few minutes and feel more relaxed after hearing the soothing sound of a harp. It helps visitors relax, and that helps the patients they visit be less anxious.

Sam Penrod, Deseret News

PROVO — A hospital visit can be intimidating, especially when words like "emergency," "intensive care" and "surgery" can be seen everywhere.

But the lobby of Utah Valley Regional Medical Center can at times actually feel soothing.

The new idea is to help soothe the nerves of patients and calm down family members who are worried about their loved ones.

Thanks to a harp donation from the Utah Valley Healthcare Foundation, the hospital’s volunteer services department recently organized a group of musicians to play soothing music for those passing through the lobby.

“We want anybody who is walking through the lobby, who needs a little bit of uplifting, to just walk through and have their spirits lifted,” said McKayla Kreutzkamp, a volunteer harpist.

Kreutzkamp, 16, spends a couple of hours each week volunteering her time to play the harp in the hospital lobby.

“I have worked at the harp for 11 years now,” she said, “and so now I am able to give back and really help the community with something that I love and help them calm down.”

While the harpists don’t usually get any applause for their music, they say they can feel the appreciation of those who become their audience.

“Just sitting here playing, I will glance up and see people walking by, and they will just stop and listen. And you will see their face, and they are all tense, and they will just relax,” Kreutzkamp said.

Most people pause for just a minute or two, but Nola Purcell decided to sit down after visiting a relative in the intensive care unit Monday.

“It’s beautiful, and she is beautiful,” Purcell said. “It makes you feel all relaxed, and it’s such a nice thing to do.”

Hospital officials say less-anxious visitors will help the patients as well.

“When they are calm and they are feeling good when they are going up to visit the patient, that moves the patient and that aids in their healing process — and that’s what we want,” said Cheryl Call, volunteer director at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.

“It is really rewarding for not only yourself, but for everyone involved and those who listen,” Kreutzkamp said.

She is one of 13 volunteer harpists at the hospital, and its volunteer department is looking for more. Anyone interested in volunteering is asked to call Utah Valley Regional Medical Center's volunteer services department at 801-357-7850.

Email: spenrod@deseretnews.com

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