This week, Jared Bowen brings an exclusive look inside Boston Hope Medical Center — where music is part of the healing. Plus, an interview with Isabella Rossellini, who headlines “SubSpace: Adult Programming After Dark” at the Museum of Science.

Boston Hope Medical Center treats COVID-19 patients with music therapy.

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A patient watches a Boston Hope Music Healing performance by Jenna Bollard.
Dr Ronald Hirschberg Boston Hope Medical Center

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Boston Hope Medical Center, a 1,000 bed field hospital, was constructed within the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in South Boston to treat recovering COVID-19 patients. (It is a partnership among Governor Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Mass General Brigham and Boston Health Care for the Homeless.) In addition to standard treatment and rehabilitation practices, the hospital is working to heal the mind and body with music therapy.

Patients at Boston Hope are given the option to listen to music playlists specifically curated for their recovery. The playlists feature mostly classical music and offer different themes throughout the day: “Energy” for the morning, “Engagement” for the afternoon, and “Evening Calm” to close out the day.

Patients can engage with the music therapy either on donated tablets or in a separate theater space where they can gather while still maintaining social distancing.

“Music has the ability to actually decrease heart rate,” says Dr. Ron Hirschberg, Chief Medical Officer at Boston Hope Medical Center. “It can sync with people's respirations. You can breathe to certain types of music. So there are really physiological benefits as well.”

Isabella Rossellini headlines “SubSpace: Adult Programming After Dark” presented by the Museum of Science

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Isabella Rossellini speaking to a sold-out crowd at the Museum of Science in 2019 .
Jonathan Beckley, courtesy of the Museum of Science

Many know Isabella Rossellini for her career as a model, actor, author and filmmaker. Fewer know of her master’s degree in animal behavior. Yet it is a passion that has fueled Rossellini since she was a child, and she recently headlined a discussion on the topic to open a virtual season of “SubSpace: Adult Programming After Dark” presented by the Museum of Science.

In a conversation with Duke University Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology, Brian Hare, Rossellini delves into the wonders of animal cognition during this free, virtual event, which is now available to watch on YouTube.

“You can say that human beings are the most cognitive of all animals,” says Rossellini. “But it isn't exclusive to us that we have built a hammer or a hook… even a Crow can shape a little branch in different hooks to fish worms that are hiding in tree holes."

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