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Music Therapy Comes to St. Catherine’s Palliative Care Program

March 18th, 2015

Thanks to the creative efforts of the Smithtown DECA Club’s Christmas Tree Lighting fundraising initiative, held in December 2014, St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center was able to add music therapy to its Palliative Care Program.

The American Music Therapy Association defines music therapy as is a discipline whose professionals make use of clinical and evidence-based music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program. Further, music therapy is a powerful and physically noninvasive medium, unique outcomes are possible when interventions are directed to reduce pain, anxiety, and depression.

Local guitarist and musician Vance Brescia, along with St. Catherine’s palliative care social worker Denise Raab, MSW, began the Strolling Musician series through the Palliative Care unit on Wednesday, March 18, 2015 and the magic started. Mr. Brescia took personalized song requests and without skipping a beat, he began to play classic Beatles tunes and Italian love songs. One patient said with a big smile on her face, “I haven’t heard that Italian song in years—it brings back wonderful memories of my mom singing in the kitchen while she cooked.”

“There was such a positive response from the patients, visitors, physicians and staff—Mr. Brescia was able to help uplift the spirits of everyone in such a memorable way,” said Director of Public and External Affairs Heather Reynolds. “We are thrilled that through the fundraising efforts of our local high school students, we can now expand to include this service to our patients here at the medical center.”

Palliative care is a medical specialty that helps patients and their families facing a serious illness, providing expert assistance during a difficult time. Should you find yourself in this situation, St. Catherine offers guidance and emotional support to help you make complex medical decisions and coordinates care and treatment with doctors at any stage of your illness. An experienced team will help manage symptoms such as pain, nausea, fatigue, depression and anxiety following your wishes throughout the process.

Photo: Denise Raab, MSW, and local musician Vance Brescia.

For more information about Palliative Care at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center, please call (631) 870-3444.