Literature & Medicine Program at VA Hospital in Charleston

SC Humanities is pleased to announce that the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston has been selected to be the first VA hospital in the state to become involved in Literature & Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Health Care, an award-winning reading and discussion program for health care professionals. SC Humanities is one of 14 state councils to benefit from a major grant awarded to the Maine Humanities Council by the National Endowment for the Humanities for this innovative program designed to support health care professionals in VA Medical Centers across the country.

"This is a very timely and important project," noted Victoria Bonebakker, Associate Director of the Maine Humanities Council and Program Director of Literature & Medicine. "As health care professionals encounter increasing numbers of severely wounded Iraq veterans, many of them very young, while they continue to deal with the older and aging veterans of Vietnam and Korea, all admidst decreased resources and support, the opportunity to gain new perspectives on their work and their patients in community with their colleagues is vital.

At the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, 25 health care professionals will take part in the pilot series of reading and discussion programs in 2009 -2010, facilitated by Dr. Kathleen Beres Rogers of the College of Charleston. They will meet once a month for six months to discuss thought-provoking works that shine a light on their role as health care professionals, including The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the movie Wit, among others.

Since 1997, Literature & Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Health Care has reached hospital personnel in 28 states, providing them with facilitated reading and discussion groups that allow them to recognize and address the challenges they routinely face. Created by the Maine Humanities Council, Literature & Medicine has been in South Carolina since 2004 when SC Humanities began partnering with Maine Humanities Council to make this program available to South Carolina hospitals.

The mission of SC Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. SC Humanities programs and initiatives are balanced, reflecting sensitivity to the diversity of ideas, encourage open dialogue, demonstrate integrity, and are ethical in operations.