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Nature, Art, and Healing

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LOUISVILLE Findings from several studies show that hospital gardens and photos of nature have medical benefits for patients. Donald Vish, a Louisville attorney with a passion for photography, has researched several such studies and has become fascinated by these findings. As Norton Suburban Hospital becomes Norton Women’s Hospital and Kosair Children’s Hospital – St. Matthews, Vish is sharing his talents by furnishing the facility with beautiful photographs acquired in 37 parks and neighborhoods in Louisville.

Uppsala University Hospital in Sweden conducted a study on 160 heart surgery patients in an intensive care unit. The patients were exposed to varied conditions, which included having a nature photograph on the wall, having abstract paintings or having blank walls. Surveys confirmed that patients exposed to scenes with trees, water, and green nature were more at ease and needed less pain medicine than those who experienced the other conditions. Several studies have been done with similar results, proving that seeing scenes of nature produces powerful benefits for hospitalized patients.

Vish’s drive for helping others combined with his love of photography inspired him to work on the art for the new women’s and children’s facility. Using his keen eye for spectacular scenes in nature, Vish has traveled to 37 parks and neighborhoods in Louisville to capture local beauty for the facility’s future patients. His photos will be infused onto mediums using a gas sublimation printing process and then placed in the hallways, nursing stations and patient rooms of the hospital.

Vish hopes to bring a sense of place to the hospital, helping patients feel at home in an environment that can otherwise bring stress to a family. He does other philanthropic work outside of his law practice, including teaching photography classes to underprivileged youth and serving as the executive director and a board member of the J & L Foundation, a philanthropic organization focused on peace, racial harmony and child welfare.

Colleagues at his law firm, Middleton Reutlinger, were so impressed with his work that they converted the top floor of their practice building into an art gallery in January 2006. Executives of Norton Women’s Hospital and Kosair Children’s Hospital – St. Matthews hope Vish’s work will inspire their patients just as it did his co-workers, allowing them to benefit from the power in the nature that surrounds us every day.