By Alicia Doyle

The Writer
Specializing in Good News
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Photo by Karen Quincy Loberg/November 12, 2014/Ventura County Star

Concert launches Simi Valley Hospital's new healing arts program

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. - Religious hymns and patriotic songs played on a baby grand piano filled the lobby at Simi Valley Hospital during a recital Tuesday that launched a new healing arts program designed to create a therapeutic environment.

“There is clinical evidence that shows when you bring the arts into the healing environment, people do better,” Michelle Foster, president of the Simi Valley Hospital Foundation, told a crowd of several dozen. “It is our hope that through this community program we will be able to bring to Simi Valley Hospital more of the healing arts, so in the end, our community benefits.”

A half-hour recital was performed by Sam Ocampo on a Disklavier piano by Yamaha at the lobby entrance.

“This is a tremendous pleasure to be playing this beautiful instrument,” said Ocampo, a Napa Valley resident who has recorded several albums.

“This instrument has the capability to be programmed; a computer can record the action.”

Wednesday’s audience included half a dozen members of the U.S. military representing the Army, Navy, Air Force and Army bands. Also there were Mayor Bob Huber, Councilman Glen Becerra and Fred Bauermeister, executive director of the Free Clinic of Simi Valley.

Kim Milstien, the hospital’s president and chief executive officer, quoted Plato to the crowd: “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the mind ... a charm to sadness and life to everything.”

She said the words still hold true.

“I walked in here thinking about my day ... and what was worrying me, and I’m not thinking about those things anymore,” Milstien said.

“Why would a hospital want to put on a concert?” she continued.

“We are all ... more than our physical beings. If we treat only the (body), we’re not treating you, the whole person. We’re all creatures of the body, mind and spirit. Tonight’s program is something we want to speak to that part of the soul. Music starts where words end.”

The piano was made possible $10,000 donations from the Simi Valley Hospital Foundation and foundation board member Curt Witeby and his wife, Theresa.

“We’ve also received other donations for the healing arts program, which will be used for implementation of the program,” said Foster, noting the ongoing program will feature regular recitals, as well as art displays throughout the hospital.

The Witeby donation was made in honor of Ron Hyrchuk, the hospital’s director of spiritual care services.

“We live in a generation that requires children to provide care for our parents,” Curt Witeby, of Simi Valley, said in reference to his family’s reason behind making the donation. “In our efforts to provide the best possible care ... our family spent hours and hours in the emergency room here at Simi Valley Hospital.

“Ron, without your spiritual guidance and emotional support, the Witeby family would not have been able to navigate. Simi Hospital has a special place in our hearts. ... Thank you for allowing us to partner with the hospital to help sponsor the healing arts program.”

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