Is one born a nurse or made a nurse? Years ago, in her home country of Guyana, little Juanita watched her grandfather care for people. He was a pharmacist, but without a doctor in town, his reach was far. Juanita remembers him as a “dispenser of goodness” in many different ways. “I wanted to be like that; to help people feel better,” she shares. For reasons unknown to Juanita, her mother discouraged her from pursuing a medical profession. She succumbed to her mother’s wishes and became a school teacher for six years. But something was missing. Although she was good at her job, teaching did not make her heart sing. Feeling that she had a spiritual gift to care for people, Juanita bravely made a life change. She now glows with gratitude as she talks about nursing. Juanita looks for ways to connect with each of her patients, making their concerns hers. “I love it when patients come back to the hospital to see me and show me that they are well!” she beams. Vocation comes from the Latin verb, vocare, with means “to name or call.” We’re glad Juanita listened to a different voice to find her calling as a nurse. Mother doesn’t always know best!
Juanita is a nurse on the Progressive Care Unit
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.”