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St. Mark’s exhibit helps ‘humanize health care community,’ chaplain says

SHARE St. Mark’s exhibit helps ‘humanize health care community,’ chaplain says

SALT LAKE CITY — Black-and-white portraits surrounded by red matting spanned the main entrance of St. Mark's Hospital on Thursday as part of a new art display.

St. Mark’s Hospital Chaplain Saundra Shanti created the "Healing Hands" exhibit, which features portraits and accompanying vignettes of 12 hospital staff members. The portraits include only the face and hands of the employees.

With Shanti's vision in mind, photographer Chelsea Rowe took the pictures. Shanti then privately interviewed staff members to capture biographical or anecdotal stories.

People need physical and spiritual assistance to heal, according to Shanti, and one way to heal spiritually is to connect with people. As a graduate student in arts and medicine, Shanti said she believes mixing arts with health care creates maximum healing because it fulfills both needs.

As part of her job, Shanti listens to the stories of patients, but she said patients rarely get to hear the stories of the health care professionals.

"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," Shanti said. "I wanted to humanize our health care community to one another and to our families and patients."

Intensive care unit director Brooke Raby's vignette grasps the moments just before her grandmother, Mary, passed away.

"Mary lay silently in her bed as her body followed its natural process of leaving this life. An ICU nurse acquainted with death, Brooke did what came easily to her," the vignette beneath Raby's portrait reads. "She combed Mary's hair, adjusted her sheets and moistened her lips, attending to details that expressed compassion."

Raby said she was extremely pleased with how Shanti expressed a moment that was so dear to her.

"At the ICU, we have many of those days up there that are life and death," she said, "but it's really about taking care of each other and your family and sometimes your work family also."

St. Mark's CFO Michael Herron said he believes the display will help hospital employees get to know each other. The 12 portraits were spread throughout the hospital Thursday. After three weeks, the portraits will be exchanged for 12 other profiles.

For now, the hospital is planning three rounds of portraits, but the project may continue if there is enough positive feedback.

Email: vjorgensen@deseretnews.com

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