Nursing is part science and part art. Shelley brings both of these disciplines together in the way she practices her craft. Originally, she was a dance major in college, which might explain how she can gracefully manage to choreograph the movements of an entire hospital! She let go of the ambition to perform when she got married, and took up motherhood instead. Later, divorced and remarried, Shelley went back to college, this time to study nursing. Two more children were born along the way and Shelley’s mother was a tremendous help with her little troupe. After her fifth child was born, her mom told her, “Five kids are enough! I may not always be here to help you.” Shelley thoughtfully notes that this felt like a premonition because her mother died, in St. Mark’s Hospital, a year later. “It seemed that she knew something,” Shelley muses. A hospital is often a place of mystery, where questions go unanswered and events go unexplained. Perhaps it is her dancer’s heart that allows her to bring such sincere, soulful expression to the care she offers to both patients and staff.
Shelley is a Nursing Supervisor 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.”