When elderly patients come to the Emergency Department, Amber’s heart is open wide to receive them. She knows firsthand what it is like to show up at the hospital with someone you love, anxious about what is happening, scared for what might be coming next. Amber was the caregiver for both of her grandparents for six years. Her grand-mother suffered from Alzheimer’s and mostly did not recognize the person who loving-ly attended to her daily needs. Her grandfather was “cantankerous,” keeping Amber at arm’s length, never wanting to admit that he needed assistance! Amber’s compassion reached to the younger generation in the family as well. Now that the matriarch and patriarch were no longer able to care for her three cousins who lived in their home, Amber stepped in. After parenting these children until they were grown, the youngest offered an indirect affirmation of Amber’s care, when she asked, “Will you be my mom?” Amber was able to adopt her niece, celebrating that the joy of family can come in unexpected ways.
Amber works in Registrar in the Emergency Department.
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.”