Aladin recalls an evening when he and his friend were leaving the gym after a routine workout. They got in the car and were driving away, listening to music as always, when Aladin noticed something felt sideways. He could feel his friend’s sadness, but was not sure what to do with it. In the past, he might have turned up the radio. Tonight he would try something different. “What’s wrong?” he asked. “Nothing, I’m fine,” his friend lied. Aladin decided to take a risk and without invitation, opened up about his own life situation, sharing some of his struggles and concerns. Immediately, his friend felt safe and responded in kind. “It felt amazing,” Aladin recalls, “to have someone really listen and to be heard and understood.” They were able to share their wisdom with one another and in so doing, experience a kind of inner healing. Becoming vulnerable made personal connection possible. “Lots of things in life are risks,” Aladin says. “Getting into a car is a risk!” When asked about the chance he took that night to deepen a friend-ship, Aladin does not hesitate to confirm, “It was worth it!”
Aladin is an Operator for St. Mark’s telephone switchboard.
St. Mark’s Hospital Chaplain Saundra Shanti wanted to connect patients to their caregivers and employees to each other. That’s why she created the Healing Hands portrait series, featuring black and white photographs and stories of St. Mark’s employees at all levels.
“Our patients and families who go in and out know that this is a nurse, and this is a housekeeper, but they don’t know them as people,” Saundra said. “I wanted to humanize our healthcare community to one another and to our families and patients.”
Each photo is accompanied by a story; some biographical, others are anecdotes of experiences that led employees to become caregivers and healthcare professionals. Twelve portraits are currently displayed throughout the hospital, but a total of 36 photos will be rotated throughout the exhibit for the next two months.
By highlighting personal, inspiring and real stories about the staff who will be caring for patients during what can often be an emotional time, the exhibit builds a sense of community. Patients and families will be able to view caregivers as real people with real stories whom they can relate to and connect with, making the hospital experience more personal.
“When we humanize each other, we care more for one another,” Saundra said. “I wanted our employees to be recognized as valuable human beings apart from their professional titles. I wanted to cultivate interaction and respect across our departments and services.”