A seasoned nurse, John bubbles over with experiences of healing. He tells about Leslie and Jacob, and then calls across the nurses’ station to his colleague, “And of course there was Amy - you remember her, right?” Amy spent months in and out of Room 21, contending with cancer. Having spent many hours at her bedside, as well as with her family, John was invested in Amy’s care. One day when Amy was weary from sorrow and treatment, she confided in John, “I can’t do this anymore.” For John, that just wouldn’t do. “The hell you can’t!” he shot back, and proceeded to not only nurse her but also to coach her through many more months of recovery until she walked out of the hospital. John reflects that not every patient is cured, but “we care for them until they have their final healing.” (John always says, “We” as a nod to the team aspect of patient care.) He recalls a 35-year old man who everyone knew was going to die. “When I get to heaven,” he told John, “I am going to tell your wife just how wonderful you’ve been to me.” John pauses, quietly holding space. “What do you do with that?” he wonders.
John is a Nurse on 3West Oncology.
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.”