When Emeline’s mother turned down a party for her 70th birthday, she and her siblings decided to gift Mom with a trip to New Zealand. This was more in keeping with her mother’s adventurous spirit anyway! On the tail of that experience, another surprise appeared, but this one was not welcome. Emeline’s mother received a cancer diagnosis the week she got home from her travels. “She is such an inspiration to me,” Emeline declares about her mother. The oldest of nine children, Mom has often been called upon to care for a sibling or other family member. Her domestic skills, including cooking and sewing, also contributed to her family’s wellbeing. However, with the diagnosis, surgery and rounds of chemotherapy, Emeline knew that it was now her turn to provide care. She and her five year old son moved in with her parents in order to meet their needs. Even though it greatly disrupted her work and personal schedule, Emeline does not regret the changes this season of caregiving brought to her life. Rather, she expresses gratitude for the fact that her son had the blessing of hearing Tongen spoken in his home. “My mother is a warrior,” Emeline declares. “She managed her fear and completed all of her treatments.”
Emeline works in Registrar for St. Mark’s.
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.”