Q&A: Pasha Yamotahari talks Partners that Heal Scottsdale impact

Pasha Yamotahari

The Scottsdale Independent reached out to Pasha Yamotahari, who is both the Phoenix Theatre associate producing director and Partners that Heal Program director, to better understand the groundbreaking effort.

Below he outlines how the Partners that Heal program makes an impact on both children in care and the doctors and nurses who support them.

One year after the program was expanded to Scottsdale, the Independent asked Mr. Yamotahari how expansion plans have gone and what the future might hold for the program.

This is what he had to say:

•One year later, how has the Partners
that Heal program expanded its reach in Scottsdale?

We hosted multiple Medical Improvisation Workshops to doctors, nurses and medical school students at Mayo Clinic, in an effort to, organically expand our reach. Every medical specialist we train has the ability to implement our techniques and touch far more lives than our flagship team ever could.

We have started conversations with Scottsdale Community College about offering our Partners That Heal Training programs — Badge Buddy and Medical Improvisation workshops — to both their school of nursing and their student leader groups. The Partners That Heal flagship team had its first training visit to the Mayo Clinic in preparation for delivering monthly service to Mayo Clinic’s populations starting November 2019.

•What kind of service is the Partners that
Heal program seeking to achieve?

In early 2018, we established the therapeutic floor and the radiation oncology unit as our destination for monthly small group improvisation and bedside improvisation visits by the flagship team, which is part of the regional programming initiative in our program’s strategic plan.

A view of Mr. Yamotahari in action training doctors at Mayo Clinic Scottsdale. (Submitted photo)

We will also be continuing the delivery of medical improvisation workshops to Mayo Clinic doctors, nurses and medical school students. Mayo clinic and Partners That Heal will create a national implementation of the Medical Improvisation Workshop and will be presenting it to the 2019 National Mayo clinic Symposium

With Scottsdale Community College, we plan on introducing the Badge Buddy Volunteer Student program as part of the regionalization of the Badge Buddy initiative.

This pilot program will be key in creating the future model shared with higher education students at other Maricopa Community Colleges and Arizona State University and the University of Arizona.

•Do you think the program makes a difference?

A parent of a patient recently shared on our social media page:

“Thank you for making a beautiful difference today. My daughter has been in and out of the hospital for a chronic health problem. Again, this morning she was crying about not being able to go to school, missing her friends, her own bed … Days that turn into weeks make it difficult to find hope and rise above the circumstances. Your visit was truly divine intervention. I can’t say thank you enough!”

Partners That Heal, established in 2008, uses improvisation and play to bring laughter to children afflicted with life-threatening and life-ending illnesses in medical facilities across the Valley. Bridging science and the arts to deliver innovative palliative care, Partners That Heal calls upon the talents of highly-trained Phoenix Theatre performing artists to relieve stress and increase trust and communication between patients and their doctors, nurses, and child life specialists.

Following extensive rehearsals and relevant medical training, the six-member team travels to partner locations — including Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Banner Thunderbird, Ryan House, and Mayo Clinic — to engage with even the most isolated pediatric patients, creating unique, fun, and individualized repertoire that deeply affects the child participants — reinvigorating the stressful hospital setting with laughter and smiles.

With a vast canon of over 250 performing arts-based interventions — utilizing theatrical techniques such as song and dance, puppetry, references to pop culture and children’s media, and quick-thinking improvisational games — team members help increase trust and communication between patients and their doctors, nurses, and child life specialists that aid in creating shared memories that act as future points of conversation. Playtime gives patients, and often their young siblings too, the freedom to be normal children: to feel carefree, joyful, and silly.

•How has The Charro Foundation support
help fuel the mission of Partners that Heal?

The continuing support of The Charro Foundation over the past few years has laid the groundwork for all of the programming delivered and studies conducted in our 2018-19 season.

Without the years of support, Phoenix Theatre and Mayo Clinic would not have been able to identify potential collaboration concepts and pioneer innovative multi-organizational programming that will grow regionally and nationally as part of the Partners That Heal strategic plan initiatives and expand the reach of our unique therapeutic programming.

•Do you have any hard data?

Over the last 10 years, Partners That Heal’s flagship team has touched the lives of over 50,000 children and family members in our community. During our tenure, we have provided service for 19 recognized health and respite facilities/organizations across the Valley.

This past year saw us train 60 medical professionals in Medical Improvisation Workshops at Mayo Clinic.

We feel that this new modality of our program is integral in expanding our reach. For example, if each doctor we train uses our techniques with seven patients each day, five days each week, over 46 weeks we will have impacted over 1,600 people per doctor. Multiply that by the 60 professionals that we trained and that potentially expands our impact to almost 100,000 individuals.

Northeast Valley Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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