For Jack, working in the hospital is as natural as breathing. An understated soul with a dry wit, Jack is easily recognized at St. Mark’s by his signature white lab coat and North Jersey accent. The small town in New Jersey where Jack was raised kept a close eye on him. One time, as a teenage lad, his mischievous remarks got him in trouble with his gym teacher. It just so happened that the teacher’s parents owned the corner delicatessen where Jack’s mom and dad shopped. “I was no angel,” Jack confesses, “but I wasn’t a problem child either!” Nevertheless, Jack’s mother thought it best to sign him up as a volunteer in the hospital when he was 14 years old. That bit of parenting eventually resulted in our good fortune at St. Mark’s. How so? Jack never left the hospital setting. His value was recognized and he received on-the-job training as a technician until he eventually got his degree in respiratory therapy. What does Jack do when the white coat comes off at the end of a day? “I read professional material,” he states matter-of-factly. Of course you do, Jack…of course you do.
Jack Fried is the Director of Respiratory Care and Neurodiagnostic Services at St. Mark’s Hospital.
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.”