Mike’s heart was opened by another’s suffering when he was 17 years old. Three of his older siblings had already married and left the nest. Three siblings including Mike, his twin, and his little sister were still at home when their dad announced that he was leaving. His mom was distraught and struggled to adjust to this new reality. Mike searched for ways that he could comfort her. Because his mom needed to go to work full time, he quickly took on more responsibility at home. For example, Mike began to cook dinner for the family. His older siblings checked in on the younger three and did what they could to be supportive. Through this painful experience, Mike learned to ask for help when he needed it. “People were always willing to pitch in and assist us,” he explains. “They just needed us to tell them how they could help so they didn’t have to guess.” Mike has carried this lesson into adulthood and tries to make a point to notice if someone might need a hand. “Just underneath the exterior, someone might be hurting,” he reminds us. It never hurts to ask.
Mike is a pharmacist 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.”