It is not uncommon to hear someone say, “I hate hospitals.” This could be translated into, “I don’t like hurting,” “I feel out of control,” or “I am scared.” As a child, Ian spent a lot of time in a hospital, dealing with numerous medical issues. He still has a photograph that was taken of his nursing team from the hospital in Iowa where he was a young patient. The staff presented the picture to him before he discharged. To Ian, the photo meant that he mattered, that these people truly cared about him. Years later, this photo is still a treasure. His own experience of being cared for influenced his decision to seek employment in a hospital as an adult. Ian considers carefully how his work affects his patients. “It is important to me to treat people well,” he says. “I want to live with integrity and remember what is important.” For Ian, that means letting patients know that they matter to him. Sometimes we learn by contrast. Ian laments that when his mother was a patient in a hospital she had very poor care. Inasmuch as he can help it, that is not going to happen on his watch!
Ian is a Transporter 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.”