Wayne State’s School of Social Work partners with students, DMC, and Detroit Country Day to support COVID-19 patient well-being with art and books

donated artwork
Examples of printed art pieces donated by K-12 students at Detroit Country Day School

As social workers we understand that wellness is not merely the reduction of physical symptoms, but to truly heal one must address a patient’s emotional health as well. For many COVID-19 patients, this is vitally important with visitation restrictions and isolation from loved ones.

Members of the Detroit Medical Center (DMC), WSU-Integrative Biosciences Center and the School of Social Work came together to form the Patient Improvement and Wellness Team to develop ideas for COVID-19 patient improvement and well-being. The Team developed a three-pronged strategy to support Detroit area COVID-19 patient wellness which includes 1) a rolling library offering sanitized books to patients, 2) placement of art in patient spaces, many of which are not traditional patient rooms, and 3) the donation of phones, tablets and chargers to provide patients with a way to connect with their support systems.

Art delivery
Joanne Sobeck and art delivery

In collaboration with the Social Work Coalition for Community Social Work Student Org and co-president’s Colleen Elsbernd and Andre Iadipaolo, the Team has been able to sanitize donated books that have been delivered to the DMC as a rolling library. On Thursday, April 23, Team members delivered on the second strategy to support patient recovery from COVID-19. Over 200 printed art pieces donated by K-12 students at Detroit Country Day School were provided to the staff at Detroit Receiving Hospital and Sinai-Grace Hospital. Joanne Sobeck, Associate Dean for Research, School of Social Work worked with Melissa Parks, Detroit Country Day art teacher to get teachers and students involved with project. "Country Day got on board and was able to solicit student art projects, beautiful and aspiring pieces to brighten patient rooms and get them printed through the generosity of ArborOakland Group" said Sobeck.  

Hanging artwork

Working on the inside of the health facility, Dr. Kerin Jones, an Emergency Medicine physician at Detroit Receiving organized a team of front line health workers to deliver the art and numerous books that were collected in the previous weeks. 

"The collaboration of the clinicians, the School of Social Work, student artists, and volunteers who distributed the books and artwork was great. Delivering the books and really the artwork was the highlight. Patients were very excited and grateful to be able to pick items and then we hung them in the room. They were truly touched by the kindness of others.  The patients in the ICU the nurse chose a picture and hung it in their room for them. It was a great experience to be part of and we brightened many patient’s day." - Dr. Kerin Jones

These initiatives have not only affected patients while hospitalized, but they will continue to improve care as those discharged are able to take the books and art pieces back home as a reminder that through this crisis, they were never forgotten by their loved ones or by their community in southeastern Michigan. Staff have also benefited from the excitement of helping to fill a void that contributes to patient improvement and well-being. As front line workers during this pandemic, social workers will continue to collaborate with community organizations to support our Detroit home and tackle these hurdles together.

To learn how you can be a Social Work Warrior In Action and support these outreach activities contact Lena Boraggina-Ballard at Boraggina.Ballard@wayne.edu or visit our Social Work Warriors In Action page to see how you can help community partners in need. Please note we are currently awaiting the results of the needs survey and will then resume material collections. We are not currently accepting book donations. View additional photos of the artwork collection and rolling library on our Flickr page and learn more about patient wellness initiatives spearheaded by the School here

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