A young college student at the time, Emily pulled into her mom’s driveway at the end of a long day. She picked up her daughter, but instead of getting back into the car to go home, she announced that they were going for a walk. While winding her way through the neighborhood just minutes before, Emily had noticed a little three-year-old girl wandering alone. Now she spied the little girl down the block and attempted to approach her. However, this spooked the girl, so that she moved away from Emily! Undeterred, Emily continued pursuing her at a distance until she made her way to a main street where a police officer was in view. Just as Emily was relaying the situation to the officer, he received a call reporting a lost child. Apparently he was less scary than Emily, because the little girl let him take her home! Walking back to her car, Emily felt satisfied that she had a part in keeping the three-year-old safe. A few years later, when Emily was in school for respiratory therapy, an unknown woman approached her and said, “Thank you for saving my daughter’s life!” The officer had shared Emily’s name with the mother, but until that moment, she had not been able to locate her to express her gratitude.
Emily is the Clinical Coordinator for NICU Respiratory Therapy at 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.”