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Social Distancing sparks new National Nurses Week tradition

Advocate South Suburban Hospital nurses start virtual chain of blessings

The annual Blessing of the Hands ceremony is a highlight of every Nurses Week celebration at Advocate South Suburban Hospital, 17800 Kedzie Ave., in Hazel Crest. And this year – in the times of COVID-19 – this honored tradition holds special meaning.

“Our Nurses are truly in the eye of the storm. They are true heroes, having to transform how they deliver care in every field of nursing during this pandemic,” said the hospital’s Chief Nursing Officer, Sharon Otten. “Despite the limitations for human hands on touch with this pandemic, our nurses have embraced other ways to ‘touch’ patients and their families. Therefore, the essence of touching has not disappeared despite the barriers of the pandemic.”

When the need for social distancing ruled out the traditional gathering of the hospital’s more than 400 registered and certified nurses for one large ceremony, Advocate South Suburban’s nursing team kicked-off a virtual chain of blessings. Nursing leaders videotaped the ceremonial blessing, candle lighting and anointing of the hands.

Then, each participant shared the video with several other nurses, encouraging them to replicate the ceremony in small groups.

“We came up with this idea because social distancing is our new normal and we have to adapt,” Otten said, adding that cancelling the blessing wasn’t an option.

“As it turns out, the smaller ceremonies are adding a little more intimacy and emotion as nurses who deliver care together are reflecting as a team.”

The virtual ceremonies are also adding a little fun. Advocate South Suburban nurses are inviting other nurses within and outside their hospital to repeat and share the blessings.

National Nurses Week ended on 12. The Blessing of the Hands is a nondenominational recognition of the compassion, healing and heartfelt commitment – all embodied by the touch – of women and men in the nursing profession.

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