Fixing the Heart with Art

EMU kicked off Homecoming and Family Weekend 2015 by having cardiologist Joseph Gascho speak in Common Grounds. Gascho, MD, practices and teaches medicine at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Gascho has been known by many to have a special talent. “To best care for patients, it is not enough to listen with a stethoscope and to view an echo cardiogram. Patients are more than heart sounds and heart images,” says Gascho. As a skilled photographer and poet, he utilizes his work to treat his patients and himself.

Dr. Gascho describes his work, “By photographing my patients in their homes and by writing about them in poems, I have learned much about them as people. By learning to know who they are in this manner I find I can take better care of them, and by learning to know them in these ways I learn more about myself as well. I will present photos of patients and poems I have written about my patients, accompanied by both photographs of the patients or images from tests they have undergone.”

One of his more popular projects among his colleagues and patients, “Patient Portraits”, is a series of several dozen portraits of his patients- each with a brief description of their ailments, while also communicating their humanity. Gascho explains, “My point is to show they are more than just patients; they’re people as well.”

“So what I hope for in my art is that people would see things in different ways—to see a patient differently or understand something about them- selves, about medicine, healing, in a different way. When we see things in a different way, it’s kind of an ‘a-ha’ moment, an epiphany, and we can do things differently. We tend to make the most changes when we have those moments. That’s what I hope a photo- graph or a poem can be.”

On Friday, Dr. Gascho recited some of his poems in Common Grounds. Through these works of art, Gascho does not just want to communicate with his patients; he wants to open people’s minds to new perspectives and ideas.

Written by Cara Neikirk, Staff Writer

Categories: Feature

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