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Published on February 13, 2017

A hobby to de-stress after a long day at the hospitalA hobby to de-stress after a long day at the hospital

sara mcdermott

Sara Mcdermott preps arrangements

Cape Cod Hospital emergency medicine physician Jeff Herbst, MD still keeps his letter of acceptance to Berklee College of Music on a wall of his music studio in his Buzzards Bay home.

“I was going to Berklee but had to decide between music and pre-med,” he said.

Dr. Herbst has been an ER doctor for 14 years, but never gave up on his musical aspirations completely. He plays guitar in pubs around the Cape with his band High Tide. They play mostly rock n’ roll and the band is a constant at the Barnstable Tavern.

Dr. Herbst was accepted at Berklee, which is located in Boston, in 1986. He declined, however, and instead pursued his undergraduate and pre-med education at Creighton University in Nebraska. He completed his emergency medicine residency at Yale.

Music has been a part of Dr. Herbst’s life ever since he was a child. Then he discovered medicine and music remained as a hobby. He likes to practice in his home studio, which overlooks a conservation area and a cranberry bog. “It’s very peaceful to play music there,” he said.

When he is not with the group, Dr. Herbst likes to play jazz and classical tunes using a technique where the player plucks the strings with the fingertips or picks attached to fingers.

Although music had to give space to medicine in Dr. Herbst’s life, he has no regrets. “I have a good job and a good hobby.”

For O’Keefe staff nurse Sara McDermott there cannot be anything more pleasurable than making flower arrangements and working with pottery. In the past few months Sara made the flower arrangements for the weddings of two co-workers. Prior to her nursing career, she did it professionally.

Sara’s passion developed in the 1980s. “I had a small business during nursing school. I did all of my nurse school friends’ weddings.”

She remembers the days when she would buy flowers at the Boston Flower Market.

She did not charge much and that is part of the reason why she did not stay in the business.

“I did it for pleasure.”

However small, it was with that income that Sara helped pay for the New England Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing tuition. Sara stopped doing it professionally when she started having a family.

Nowadays Sara makes arrangements, mostly as gifts for friends, with dahlias, zinnias, snapdragons and statice she grows in her five-acre backyard in Sagamore.

“My husband is wonderful at preparing the soil, weeding and maintaining it and I do the planting and the picking,” she said.

Pottery entered Sara’s life years ago when she was a student at Sandwich High School. She picked it up again three years years ago. She takes classes weekly with four other ladies at a local artist’s studio. Sara has a studio in the basement of her home, but feels most productive when working with the group.

“One Christmas I gave all my family hand carved trivets (and) a few of my coworkers are using my mugs for tea at break.”

Laurie Bougie, staff nurse at O’Keefe, uses her artistic skills to make Christmas trees. Not just any tree, but trees out of vintage jewelry. Laurie covers 8 x 10 frames with velvet, outlines the tree she wants to design and then uses vintage jewelry to create a colorful piece.

“It has to be bling-y.” Laurie emphasized.

She takes apart pins, earrings, necklaces, bracelets she buys in flea markets and state sales around. But ‘around’ sometimes means out of state. Laurie travels to Maine two or three times a year to visit her sisters and also to check yard sales and consignment stores, always on the lookout for whatever colorful piece of jewelry she may come across.

The idea popped in Laurie’s head when she spotted a similar but very large tree at an antique store on the Cape that was selling for $300. From there, Laurie came up with her own ideas. She also creates others designs, such as birds.

More than a craft, for Laurie, making these arrangements is an opportunity for bonding. Last year she and another O’Keefe nurse, Marybeth Durney, hosted a class where about 15 women came to learn how to make the arrangements. “I had shown (the frames) and they wanted to learn.”

Yoga is the stress release outlet for Cape Cod Hospital Emergency Room nurse practitioner Ellen Carty. At the time of this interview Ellen was happy about the prospect of having four entire days of solitude left to practice yoga at her condo in Delray Beach, Florida before she had to head back to work. She had just sent family home who were vising for the holidays.

“I do yoga, I write, I journal, I meditate,” she said. She reflects on the importance of ”being present.” And she believes that because of such activities she has become a better practitioner of medicine and a better listener.

She started doing yoga in 2011 when she was divorced from her husband of 16 years.

“I was in a horrible place. I went to a retreat in Lenox in Western Mass.” In spite of her meditation practices, Ellen did not find yoga easy in the beginning. “But my teacher told me: it’s just like life, you keep on practicing.”

Ellen also has a part-time job as a sexual assault nurse examiner through the State of Massachusetts. A difficult job just like the name suggests: she takes calls from offices off Cape and collects evidence of sexual assault.

Today Ellen gathers the rewards of her persistence in pursuing yoga and mediation even as she practices medicine. She applies the concept of mindfulness; of being in the moment when she listens to her ER patients.

“If I can be present – be in the moment -I can really hear what they tell me.”

[Featured Photo: Courtesy of Sara McDermott]