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The Heart of BIDMC

Mandee Martin: Creating Patient Smiles


Mandee Martin poses by a daffodil she painted at BIDMC's Emergency Radiology office.Mandee Martin steps back from the yellow daffodils she is painting on the glass outside the Emergency Radiology office to assess her work.

"I can't decide whether I should paint a caterpillar as well?" she says, laughing. "These are big decisions."

Martin's full-time job as Unit Coordinator for Emergency Radiology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is something like being a cruise director, she says. She is a support person for X-Ray, CT scans and MRIs: scheduling patient transports, answering phones, handling paperwork and ordering supplies.

But it's a different type of imaging for which she is known. She jokes the staff call her the "girl who does the paintings." A co-worker saw her doodling three years ago and encouraged her to transform her private sketches into public works of art. Since then, Martin has been brightening the lives of patients and staff alike with her monthly murals on the window in the ED.

"When older patients come in and it makes them happy, it's really special," Martin says. "I help give people something to talk about when they are here other then why they are here."

Watch a slideshow of Mandee's work



Martin uses tempura paint, which washes off glass easily, to add color to the otherwise drab ED. Patients and staff rushing through the busy department do slow down as they come to the Emergency Radiology window to take in Martin's handiwork - whether it be a group of smiling babies in honor of her eight pregnant colleagues or a sports team that is doing well.

"As far as inspiration for the window, it's mostly seasonal, like springtime flowers in bloom," she notes. "Now that people are used to - and expect - having a new window every month, I get a lot of suggestions from co-workers and passersby and nurses and environmental service staff and doctors. Mostly, I just paint whatever I feel like painting though, since after all, it is 'my' window."

Word of her talent has spread and Martin is now commissioned by co-workers to paint everything from murals in their homes to ornaments for the holidays.

"One thing keeps leading to another," she says. "Whatever sits still long enough near me gets painted."

Martin adds green stems with the stroke of her brush to the daffodils on the window, bringing them to life. She stands back again and after a thoughtful moment announces the caterpillar's fate.

"It's going to be a bee," she says reaching for the blue dry erase marker and starting to sketch its wings. "Definitely a bee."

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted November 2011