Reno firm relaxes patients in 750 hospitals

No one wants to find themselves in a hospital bed. Making that experience any easier improves patient care, safety and satisfaction. That’s the idea behind Healing Healthcare Systems.

The Reno-based company provides the CARE — continuous ambient relaxation environment — channel, 84 video hours of serene outdoor settings accompanied by soothing instrumental music that runs via closed circuit television in more than 750 hospitals nationwide.

“Our work began not to do music therapy, but to create a therapeutic environment, mitigate hospital noise and deal with the time factor. Time can seem endless when you’re in the hospital,” says Susan Mazer, chief executive officer, who with her husband Dallas Smith launched Healing Healthcare 22 years ago.

Mazer and Smith are both musicians. Mazer, a jazz harpist, performed for 25 years before starting up the company, including 14 years at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe.

“But I was seeking another way to use music, to serve the community and to serve human wellbeing,” says Mazer.

At Harrah’s, she connected with Washoe Medical Center, now Renown Health, through a colleague’s mother, who was a nurse there. The hospital asked Mazer to do a symposium on music and therapy, and Mazer ended up also recording a CD for the hospital called The Still Point.

“The medical photographer there put The Still Point to a nature slide and broadcast it on their TV,” says Mazer.

That gave Mazer and Smith the spark of the idea for the CARE channel.

“We decided we wanted patients to have music whenever they needed it and the best platform was TV,” says Mazer. “We wanted to use more than stills so my husband went into video production.”

Smith is now the business’ executive producer, producing new content for the channel every year. He also manages relationships with about 80 musicians from whom the company licenses music.

“We get submissions all the time. We have more music than we can use,” says Mazer. “It’s all original, noncommercial, instrumental, no lyrics, no language, not esoteric and very listenable.”

The company also produces for homebound patients a DVD set, which is growing from two offerings to six or seven by year end.

Healing Health now employs 16 people, all based in Reno save for its communications director in Chicago. The company hired Kelly Hunt, vice president of sales, 11 years ago and now has a three-person sales team.

Until then, though, sales were organic, says Mazer. The company’s first clients were Washoe Medical, Barton Health in South Lake Tahoe and St. Luke’s Episcopal in Houston. Now, the CARE channel is used by close to 800 hospitals, including Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center in Carson City and Northern Nevada Medical Center in Sparks and the company’s first international customer, a hospital in Hong Kong.

Helping fuel growth, too, was the service’s low price tag, now $175 per month, in an effort to reach as many patients as possible, says Mazer.

“We didn’t want patients charged and wanted even the smallest hospitals to be able to use it,” she says.


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