BEDSIDE HARP® was founded by Edie Elkan, music teacher for over 40 years and involved in using the harp as a therapeutic instrument since 1994. Understanding the extraordinary healing qualities of the instrument first-hand, she has, since 1999, dedicated herself to bringing harp therapy to healthcare and wellness settings. Her vision was to partner with a major medical facility within which she would set up a program to:
At the time however, no one in healthcare knew what harp therapy was, nor was anyone open to the concept of partnering with a music teacher who would, in effect, run a music school out of their facility. Undaunted, Edie pressed forward, offering patients and staff at hospitals, hospices, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and in doctor and dentist offices a taste of harp therapy, on a volunteer basis. Wherever she played, patients, families and staff alike were wowed — but still, no healthcare facility could quite envision hosting the kind of program Edie hoped to create.
And then came that terrible day in September 2001. And after that, the anthrax poisonings. It was in the midst of these horrors that Edie was contracted to play her concert grand harp for an event featuring Bernie Siegel, M.D. As she had gotten in the habit of doing, she not only brought her concert harp with her that evening, but her small harp and some brochures describing harp therapy, as well. It took only a moment for Sheila Birnbaum, then Patient Relations Manager at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton, to embrace Edie’s concept. Harp therapy was in fact, the very element Sheila felt her hospital was in need of, for at the time, RWJ Hamilton was actively treating the anthrax-infected postal workers.
Very quickly Sheila sought and received the enthusiastic support from then President and CEO, Christy Stephenson.
And with that, Bedside Harp® was born.
In addition to our full harp therapy programs at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton (ongoing since 2002), Bedside Harp® has offered full harp therapy programs as well, at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital at Rahway (ongoing since August 2003), at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick (from 2003 to 2007); at The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, NJ (ongoing since September 2004), at Abington Memorial Hospital, in Abington, PA, (from 2007 to 2013)., at Saint Clare’s Hospital in Denville, NJ (from 2009 to 2013), the Eastern Regional Medical Center of Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Philadelphia, PA (from 2010 to 2015) and at Saint Joseph’s Medical Center in Paterson, NJ (ongoing since 2012). We also teach our instructional classes at Bucks County Community College in Newtown, PA (ongoing since 2003) and in our offices near the Neshaminy Mall in Bensalem, PA.
Bedside Harp® has received much praise and acclaim from all sectors. Featured on TV on NBC’s Today Show, and in the print media including The New York Times, The Nursing Spectrum, The Trenton Times, The Asbury Park Press, the Bensalem Patch and The Home News Tribune, Edie Elkan and Bedside Harp are also the proud winners of the Society for the Arts in Healthcare’s 2005 Blair Sadler International Healing Arts Competition. Nominated by Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton, Edie was the recipient of the 2004 Frances Black Humanitarian Award. She was, also in 2004, nominated by Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick and received Regional Winner of the Spirit of Women Award. Edie has now inspired countless others to share her vision and passion. We invite you to hear directly from the patients, visitors and staff we proudly serve how much harp therapy means to them.