“If you provide care to patients, any ritual that can make you feel supported is important,” said Amy Magas, a social worker at Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center.
Magas was teary-eyed as she received a blessing Tuesday from Novant Health chaplain Tricia Gardner Lytle for her work, compassion and commitment with the patients and families she comes into contact with at the hospital in Huntersville, North Carolina.
“It’s an opportunity to give a targeted note of gratitude and appreciation to our employees for their compassionate care,” said the chaplain. “By supporting our team members, we are also supporting our patients.”
This year, for the first time, Gardner Lytle celebrated National Hospital Week with a “Touchstone Blessing” ceremony. Instead of using water as with the previous “Blessing of the Hands” ceremonies she’s officiated, the chaplain asked staff to choose an engraved stone with a special significance that reminded recipients why they had chosen their calling.
Engraved on each polished stone is a word: believe, dream, trust, harmony, inspire, love, hope, friends or family. Each word represents an affirmation of the inspiration, commitment and recognition of hospital staff to their patients and vocations.
Gardner Lytle believes recipients see in the stones a tangible reminder of what brings them to their jobs. “People appreciate having something to hold on to that is connected to their calling,” she said.
In two days, she’s distributed 100 stones and blessed as many people, she said as she pushed her cart down a hallway of the hospital’s intensive care unit. Colleagues and friends approached to receive her blessing.
“It touches you at your very core,” she said. “It’s a time when someone places their hands on you, anoints you with oil and reminds you that what you do matters.”
The chaplain said this is her busiest week of the year. She wants to make sure everyone is recognized. “We work with people who are dying or facing a difficult diagnosis,” she said. “This is my family and they bless me, too.”