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A Blessing of the Hands

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By James Roberts

It was a day that changed his life forever. He walked into Taylor Regional Hospital's emergency room suffering chest pains, nausea and other telltale signs of a heart attack.

Frightened and in pain, Dan Durham admits he may not have been the best patient the morning of June 6, 2005. That didn't stop hospital staff from giving him the best of care.

"That morning I walked into the ER changed my life," Durham told a roomful of nurses assembled for a Blessing of the Hands ceremony Monday. "I've worked with you ... and side by side with you. That day I was a patient. That was a big event.

"That, for me, changed my life."

For that reason, Durham said, he was honored to participate in the annual Blessing of the Hands ceremony.

About 50 nurses participated in the first ceremony of the day Monday morning. A second Blessing of the Hands ceremony occurred that night at 10. The ceremony marks a renewal of commitment to nursing, according to Registered Nurse Lee Ann Muncie.

"It is just a wonderful renewal ceremony. It helps remind us why we do what we do. It's a chance to refocus."

The morning ceremony served a dual purpose. In addition to the blessing, the nurse of the year and nurse extender of the year were also announced.

Nichole Gwilliam, a registered nurse, was named nurse of the year. Ashley Hunt, a patient care tech, was named nurse extender of the year. Nurse extenders serve in supporting roles to nurses.

In addition to Durham, who is pastor of Stewart's Creek Baptist Church in Marion County and director of Campbellsville/Taylor County Rescue, Living Grace Pastor Jason Castenir was also on hand for the ceremony.

Castenir read from John 13, in which Jesus, having come to the realization that everything was under his control, chose to serve others by washing his disciples' feet.

The passage echoes the role of nurses, Castenir said. With their extensive educational background, he said, they could do anything with their gifts.

"You can do anything," Castenir said, "and yet, day in and day out, you come to work. You choose to take your gifts and serve."

- Staff Writer James Roberts can be reached at 465-8111 Ext. 226 or by e-mail at writer@cknj.com. Comment on this story at www.cknj.com.