Judy Raab, “musician in residence” at St. Joseph’s Hospital-North in Lutz, administers a different kind of medicine to the patients there.
“My hope is to improve the hospital environment, bring down the stress level and humanize being in the hospital,” Raab said, in a news release from the hospital.
She plays for two hours a week, asking patients if they are open to a music session.
She usually plays for them in their rooms or in an area just outside their rooms where patients can hear her. If she plays for a patient, her session is charted on the patient’s medical record, similar to them receiving medicine.
The Carrollwood resident is a certified music practitioner and has played harp for more than 35 years, including 10 years at St. Joseph’s North.
She plays for patients, staff and visitors and is compensated through BayCare’s spiritual care department and St. Joseph’s Hospitals Foundation, according to the release.
Raab said the instrument is a good fit for the hospital environment due to its soothing and soft nature.
“The harp is not overwhelming like a wind instrument that can occupy a whole room,” Raab said, in the release. “With the harp, I can project directly to that individual person.”
The musician has written about her work and has been published in scholarly journals on the subject. She holds a unique degree: a Master of Arts (MA) in arts in medicine from the University of Florida. The degree teaches people how to safely and effectively engage the arts, like music, into health care environments.
Raab said her work is rewarding. “It is very satisfying and fulfilling to use my skill set and be certified to play in hospitals,” she said. “It is nice to hear a patient say ‘This is really cathartic, it is really helping me.’”
Raab also plays the harp at hospitals at St. Joseph’s Hospital and St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital, in Tampa, as well as other health care facilities.
Published March 15, 2023