Bedside Harp Program at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton Endures During Trying Days of Covid-19

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Hamilton patients and staff have loved the sounds of specialty trained volunteer harpists know as Bedside Harp. For over 20 years, Bedside Harp strolls throughout the hospital, outpatient service areas and The Cancer Center at RWJUH Hamilton. The soothing music includes familiar tunes, as well as original compositions by the musicians.

Though 2020 has shown challenges to the harpists, they remain diligent in their efforts to bring comfort to patients and staff of the hospital. The harpists work closely with the hospital to remain up-to-date on hospital safety policies and procedures. Volunteers and visitors do have limited access inside the hospital, so the harpists perform at the entrances at different buildings on campus, all while masked and socially distant.

Edie Elkan, founder of Bedside Harp and a harpist at RWJUH Hamilton for over 20 years says, “We exist to provide soothing, comfort and joy as we play our little harps for patients, their loved ones and staff. These days though we can no longer move though patient areas. What to do? No worries—now you’ll find us, weather permitting, at the entrances to the hospital and Cancer Center, serving everyone with our gentle sounds as they come and go.”

The harpists at RWJUH Hamilton know sometimes they may not deliver their gentle notes in the usual way, they still change lives, one note at a time, wherever they play.