As a teenager, Sarah loved summer camp in her home state of Michigan. For weeks at a time she went backpacking, rock climbing, and canoeing. In fact, she loved it so much that she got a college degree in Outdoor Education. So what is she doing spending her days inside a hospital? Sarah recognized that time spent in the wilderness could heal. When she was a guide on trips with troubled teenagers, she observed the team therapist interacting with the kids. “The therapist was able to assist kids to use their wilderness experience to make meaning out of their own life’s difficulties,” she explains. Building a fire, or walking six miles to get water, or coping with the discomfort of rain all provided opportunities for “experiential learning.” Sarah often made a point of noticing the quiet participant on the outside of the group. All of this led her to go back to school and become a licensed social worker. Now she seeks a different kind of adventure. One that allows her to enter into someone’s life at a time of crisis and offer compassionate care. Does she miss the mountains? She still hikes the Wasatch whenever she can. “And,” she goes on, “I appreciate the amazing views from the windows of St. Marks!”
Sarah is a Crisis Worker for St. Marks.
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.”