Tradition honoring North Texas healthcare workers continues despite pandemic

A tradition to honor North Texas health care workers was affected by COVID-19 for a second straight year.

"The Blessing of the Hands" is an annual ceremony dating to 2002 where Baylor Scott & White - Heart & Vascular Hospital employees typically hold hands in a circle while a blessing is given. But COVID-19 changed the ceremony once again in 2021.

To continue to signify unity, a main theme of the event, they held onto a long piece of string while standing side-by-side.

"When we’re standing there, whether it was back in 2002 when we actually held hands, to now where we’re holding a thread to connect us, it really is bringing us all together," said Andres Sisnero, Director of Invasive Cardiology and Director of Radiology. "You feel the energy and you feel the strength of the prayer as our chaplain is praying over us, and you can sense that we are one in our mission for caring for our patients and each other."

The hospital changed the traditional hand holding for its May 2020 ceremony. The sense of being united stayed the same, though, Sisneros said.

He points out one other important symbol of the ceremony -- the meaning of hands in the job of healthcare workers.

"Our hands are a symbol of the comfort we provide to our patients… we’re providing peace and comfort for those that are in fear and pain. It’s a way that we carry out our tasks of caring for our communities. It is a symbolism of what we do every day to care for our community," Sisneros said. 

One tradition of the event that continued, despite the pandemic, is the releasing of doves.

"Mike, our chaplain, has reflected on [the doves] this year. It was releasing really a lot of the anxieties and stresses that we had from this past year, and then looking at the hopes for tomorrow and the goodness we have ahead of us," said Nancy Vish, President and Chief Nursing Officer.

Though COVID-19 has brought many challenges on healthcare workers and providers, Sisneros said it highlighted the strength the hospital is as a team. He says that same strength appears during the ceremony.

"We opened the hospital with the culture and the focus as a team... so when we bless our hands, we’re also blessing each other," Sisneros said.