Most people quote Thoreau’s Walden, but Stephanie has read it. She has belonged to the same book group, based in Dallas, Texas for years. The group meets six times a year, sometimes in different cities. When her book group met in Boston, their discus-sion led to a personal epiphany. Stephanie has provided critical care for patients for thirteen years, a task that is rewarding, although narrowly focused and very demand-ing. This reality, coupled with Thoreau’s musings, prompted her to wonder what she might add to her own life to give it more meaning. “I’ve done science for so many years,” she says. “I needed something more, something to expand my world.” Someone suggested studying Law, but that didn’t feel right. She was hankering to think more creatively. When one of her friends suggested a master’s degree in the Liberal Arts, the light went on for Stephanie. She immediately brightens as she exclaims, “I’m studying Renaissance Art this semester.” Philosophy, music, and history will follow. Stephanie remembers a doctor who played the piano for the students during rounds when she was a resident. “It was so relaxing and made our experience richer,” she recalls. I’m betting all of us at St. Marks will likewise benefit from her studies!
Stephanie Wooley is a doctor in the ICU.
-Dr. Stephanie Woolley
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.”