SPRINGFIELD — Mercy Medical Center is participating in an international art project that recognizes healthcare workers for their efforts during the pandemic with small, handcrafted “hand medals” designed the create a link between the creator and the recipient.
Mercy’s participation in the Hand Medal Project is the result a partnership with Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts (VCU), in Richmond, Va. and artists connected to VCU who crafted 400 hand medals for distribution to Mercy nurses.
The use of a hand for this medal is purposeful, not just because of the symbol’s presence in the fight against the pandemic, but also because of its vital connection to each artist. Nurses and other healthcare workers take care to wash, sanitize, and put gloves on their hands — hands they also use to heal and connect with their patients. For metal artists, their hands make it possible to practice their craft.
This connection — between healthcare worker and artist — is both profound and real. Each hand medal has been registered with a number stamped on the back, allowing recipients to look up the maker of their medal on the project’s website.
“Since the onset of the pandemic, our nurses have demonstrated a commitment to high quality, compassionate care that has extended to both patients and their families,” said Deborah Bitsoli, President, Mercy Medical Center and its affiliates. “The Hand Medal Project offers gratitude for their efforts with a beautiful and tangible reminder of their connection to providers around the world who also bring hope and healing to those they serve.”
Distribution of the hand medals began at Mercy Medical Center on Jan. 4, and will continue for several days. Following a special ceremony to bless the hand metals, nursing leaders, dubbed “Hand Givers,” began distributing the items to nurses throughout the hospital. Recipients also receive a written message with information about the Hand Medal Project.
“As nurses, we always hold our patients in the palm of our hand, never forgetting the blessings we are given when a patient chooses to come to us for care. Recognizing how vulnerable our patients may be, we embrace them with kindness and compassion – that’s what nursing is all about,” said Darlene Cunha, MMHC, BSN, RN, CENP, ACHE, vice president of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer, Mercy Medical Center. “We are grateful to Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts for partnering with us on this extraordinary project to recognize our nurses for all that they do every day.” The Hand Medal Project, which originally debuted in smaller form as an art exhibit in Buenos Aires, brought artists, jewelers, students, and professionals together to craft hand-shaped medals that honor the service and sacrifice of health workers. Since April 2020, about 70,000 metals have been created by individuals in 66 participating countries around the world.