Music Therapy Pilot Program offered at Hoops Family Children's Hospital

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

In addition to the tones of monitors and equipment that are expected in hospitals, a new sound can be heard on the floors of Hoops Family Children’s Hospital – music.

HFCH is partnering with Aspire! Conservatory of Fine & Performing Arts in Ashland to conduct a three-month pilot project to introduce music therapy to pediatric patients and their families.

Music therapy is an established health profession in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs. Following an assessment, a qualified music therapist creates a treatment plan that can include creating, singing, moving to, or just listening to music.

“Music therapy helps create surroundings that can often support children and their families while receiving medical care,” said Carleigh Cazad, MT-BC, board-certified music therapist with Aspire! Conservatory. “Music therapy provides opportunities for the patient and their family to express their feelings toward illness, while also supporting the goals set by their treatment team. Often times, this can improve their overall outlook and optimism.”

Cazad meets with patients from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday, providing emotional support, facilitating movement and engaging patients in an outlet to express their feelings.

“We started the pilot in December with funding from donations to the Cabell Huntington Hospital Foundation, so there is no cost to patients,” said Melanie Akers, HFCH director. “The reviews from the patients, families and staff have been overwhelmingly positive already.”

“We have a patient whose family speaks Spanish and Carleigh learned to sing Feliz Navidad before the patient was scheduled to come back for his next treatment,” said Brooke Bella, APRN, FNP-C, who works in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center. “When he returned, she sang the song to the family and they were in tears. These are the moments that make our patients’ days a little better.”

“It is so rewarding to know that in some way we can use music to make the hospital stays and treatments a little more comfortable,” said DeNeil Hartley, administrative director for Aspire! Conservatory. “If we can provide any level of joy and hope for these children, then we have fulfilled our ministry.  My heart is full!”

Anyone wishing to support the music therapy program through a donation can do so by visiting or calling 304.399.4685.