Developed by the American Nurses Association, National Nurses Week is a time to celebrate and recognize nurses working in all the many fields of the health care profession. It is celebrated each year, beginning with National Nurses Day on May 6th and running through May 12th - the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.
So to bring the annual weeklong celebration to an end, Reverend Ray Francis, Director of Spiritual Care at La Porte Hospital, oversaw a special service for the nurses, saying a short prayer and taking the time to bless each nurse’s hands as he anointed them.
“Today is a special time to recognize our nurses who provide healing care to our patients every day,” Rev. Francis said. “The Healing of the Hands is a way to bless them. We anoint them with oil in the ancient tradition to recognize those with a special role or mission. This acknowledges their place and honors the important work they do,”
Pat Larson, RN at La Porte Hospital, attended the event. She says that she chose nursing as her career because she wanted to make a difference.
“I had originally pursued a different career, but that only made me realize that I was looking for something different,” said Larson. “I realized how much I loved people, how much I loved working with people. To be able to help them, comfort them in their most difficult times meant a lot to me, and was ultimately why I chose to become a nurse.”
Chaplain Francis was assisted by DJ Gapsevic, volunteer in Spiritual Care.
“The hand is so important because the hand is actually what touches the patient, and touch is very important to people,” said Gapsevic. “Anointing the hand lets them know, reminds them that - when they touch their patients - it’s important.” said Gapsevic.
Joining Gapsevic and Francis was Sheila Thompson, volunteer with Spiritual Care, who provided musical comfort with the soft tones of her hammered dulcimer.
“I play therapeutic music for the patients, to enhance the healing environment,” said Thompson. “The hammered dulcimer lends itself very well to that - it’s very subtle and soothing.”
On an especially busy day at the hospital, only a handful of nurses were able to take the time out to come down to the chapel for the service, so Chaplain Francis and his assistant took the blessing to them, covering each floor and every department of the hospital, from the ER to Maternity to the Intensive Care Unit, meeting every nurse they could find, expressing gratitude for the work they do and offering them an opportunity to partake in the blessing. They even blessed a few doctors along the way.
Gena Demuth, RN at La Porte Hospital says that the blessing is like a renewal for her.
“It’s a reminder of the importance of what our hands can do. When I touch a patient, it’s a privilege, and I try always to do the best I can,” said Demuth. “We’re there for people when they need it most, when they are at their most vulnerable, we’re there to help. I’ve seen good and bad, but I’m glad that, even when things were at the very worst, at least they didn’t have to go through it alone, because we’re there for them.”
Stacey Kellogg, Regional Manager of Community Relations at La Porte Hospital says that this is just one of the many events they have done this week, to celebrate nurse and help them connect with their spiritual side.
“The theme of this year’s Nurses Week is ‘Nursing: the Balance of Mind, Body, and Spirit,’” said Kellogg. “Regardless of what your faith base is, we feel that it’s important to be able to take a moment and connect with the spiritual side of caregiving. We’re hoping to be able to help our nurses connect with that balance.”
In the programs handed out to guests as they walked into the chapel Friday afternoon, a hymn that touched hearts and highlighted the importance of nurses who use their hands for good:
The hands that reach out with care and compassion,
The hands that hold each other’s hands and hearts,
The hands that communicate love and hope,
The hands that heal and hold sacred moments,
May your hands be blessed.
For more information about La Porte Hospital, go to www.laportehealth.com.