ESO musicians bring comfort to Sherman patients
Fourteen-year-old Brooke Mora and her mother Penelope Garcia played their usual rounds of "War" card games on a recent Thursday in Brooke's room at Sherman Hospital in Elgin.
Suddenly, the delicate sound of a viola began making its way into the hospital room.
Mother and daughter walked to the door, Brooke dragging along her IV stand, and peeked outside.
What they saw — and especially, what they heard — was violist Loretta Gillespie, a member of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, playing tunes from "Mary Poppins" in the family sitting area of the pediatric unit.
Brooke is among an estimated 3,500 patients at Sherman who have enjoyed the "Musicians Care" program offered since 2010 by the symphony.
The program now consists of visits every Thursday from ESO musicians who play in the hospital's lobby from noon to 1 p.m., and then in the inpatient units — including the critical care unit, the cancer care center, the family birthing center and more — from 1 to 2 p.m.
"I really like it. It takes away from the sickness," Brooke said.
It was a lovely moment during the distress, and sometimes tedium, of Brooke's asthma-related hospitalization, Penelope Garcia said.
"It's very nice that they actually do this for people," she said.
The program brings as much enjoyment to patients and families as it does to staff, said Joni Courtney, patient care coordinator at the cancer care center.
"It's very calming and comforting to everyone. Especially during the holidays, they really enjoyed it," Courtney said. "Music is therapeutic. A lot of patients turn to music, they have their headphones, their iPods, and they listen to music to hep them. Music is very good for them."
ESO musicians volunteer for the job, and are compensated for their time at Sherman.
Scott Metlicka, a flautist with the ESO, said the weekly hospital performances are rewarding, because of the simple joy that music can bring during difficult times.
"Sometimes patients and families are having a really bad couple of days, and it helps them relax and get their minds away from what is going on," Metlicka said.
You don't have to be a hospital patient to enjoy the performances, as anyone can come in and sit in the lobby for the first hour of the Musicians Care program.
LaVonne and Larry Mittermayer of Lake in the Hills started doing that a few weeks ago.
"We found out when I came to see my doctor in this building," LaVonne Mittermayer said while enjoying an ESO quartet performance. "I think it's wonderful that they do this for people."
"And especially because it's free" Larry chimed in.
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