May 24, 2017 | Dan Cassuto, KING
Paramedics rushed Kari Brodin to the critical care unit at Virginia Mason Hospital in the middle of the night after she suffered a stroke and blood clot.
The next day, a technician rolled a piece of equipment into her hospital room that was unlike all the other machinery. It was a harp.
The technician was Jessica Gallo, a professional harpist who plays therapeutic music to patients and their families in the hallways and rooms at Virginia Mason.
"They start taking deeper breaths," said Gallo. "Sometimes you can even see their heart rate drop and blood pressure go down right on the monitor, which is pretty incredible."
February 2, 2017 | Jennifer Sorenson
Jessica Gallo rolled her half-size harp into a patient’s room, finding her hunched in a tight ball, her face contorted in pain. It was intolerable, the patient told her, but Jessica learned from the patient’s nurse she had just received her medication. Gently Jessica asked her if she could play a little on her harp, that it sometimes is a good distraction. The music was simple: a few notes at a time with space in between. Not knowing when the next note will sound, says Jessica, can shift a patient’s focus away from pain. After a few minutes she asked the patient if she’d like to hear more and heard “yes, please.” Soon, the patient fell asleep.
“It was the best gift of the day, seeing her able to rest,” says Jessica, who is piloting a therapeutic music program at Virginia Mason. “For people to feel like someone is there, alongside them as they push through something difficult, are moments I’m privileged to be in.”
December 10, 2014 | Jennifer Sorenson
Jessica Gallo’s love for the harp started in grade school, when her grandfather would often take her to lessons. Years later a series of strokes put her grandfather in the hospital. Jessica was in college studying harp performance when he fell ill and she decided to play for him. Something about the music made a difference.
“I saw how much joy the music brought him and how it helped him be calm and rest,” remembers Jessica. “That planted a seed in my heart to explore music in medicine.”