Our Stories

San Mateo Medical Center in Collaboration with Our Heart Speaks: Healing Through New Awareness, Ability & Creative Expression

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Our lead collaborator is Frances Ancheta-Becker, MS, RN, CTRS, supervising creative art therapist at San Mateo Medical Center.

Patient Art Installment #1

Ravi R.

Primary diagnosis: Diabetes Mellitus Type 2, s/p below the knee amputation


Ravi was a former landscaper and gardener who ended up getting a below the knee amputation due to uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes. Ravi had no previous interest in the arts, and led an active daily life doing intense physical work in gardens and garden stores.

Ravi was depressed and grieved the loss of losing his leg and not doing the things that he used to do. When staying in the long-term care unit, Ravi started attending the art therapy groups, and developed an interest and skill in painting. He realized that he had an inborn talent and ability in creating works of art. Ravi enjoyed focusing on painting the houses, buildings, and landscapes that he remembered from his home country, Fiji. He also enjoyed using strokes of bright colors in his work, lending a cheery and lively vibe to his art style. Ravi’s artwork ended up on display at the hospital’s long-term care unit and hospital cafeteria, as well as featured in community art events such as the San Mateo County Fair Fine Arts Showcase/Exhibits and the San Mateo County Arts and Disabilities Showcase.

Ravi R painting

Photograph of Ravi R. Artwork #2


Robert G.

Primary diagnosis: CVA with hemiparesis


Robert previously was not involved in art as a leisure interest or hobby. He had a very analytical personality. He suffered from a CVA/stroke and had hemiparesis—he was wheelchair-bound but was able to propel himself with his functional arm and leg on his nonaffected side.

Robert got involved with the art therapy and open art studio groups at San Mateo Medical Center’s Burlingame Long Term Care campus, where he was a resident.  Robert painted with his unaffected hand and developed a trademark style utili

zing bright colors and geometric, angular shapes. His artwork ended up being featured at the San Mateo County Fair Fine Arts Showcase/Exhibits.


Photograph of Robert G. Artwork #2

Photograph of Robert G. Artwork #3 (Lovers at Night)



Earl D.

Primary diagnoses: TBI secondary to s/p automobile accident, ataxia


Earl was involved in an automobile accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury and ataxia. He had tremors in all of his upper and lower extremities. He previously enjoyed dancing prior to his health issues. However, in spite of his diagnoses, Earl managed to continue dancing in his wheelchair whenever there were dances, special events, or exercise groups.

Earl was never previously involved in art but agreed to try the art therapy groups in order to help increase his upper extremity strength and coordination. He ended up being a participant of the art therapy groups, as well as many of San Mateo Medical Center’s Creative Arts and Recreation Therapy programs, for the two plus decades that he resided in the county long term care facilities as a resident. Earl needed a lot of coaxing, but once he was able to settle in and start creating art work, Earl was known for his unique sense of color combinations, often using interesting color contrasts to give depth, dimension, and vibrancy to his work. Earl’s art was displayed in San Mateo County’s long-term care facilities over the years and was featured in community art showcases such as the San Mateo County Fair Fine Arts Showcase/Exhibits, San Mateo County Arts and Disabilities Showcase, the California Association of Healthcare Facilities published yearly calendar featuring patient artwork from facilities throughout the state. Earl also sold many of his paintings as well.

Photograph of Earl D. Artwork #1.jp


Photo of Earl D. Artwork #2


Read another story from San Mateo Center here.