Naval Air Station Patuxent River’s chaplain performed a Blessing of the Hands ceremony at the base clinic May 7.
The non-denominational act performed by Lt. Clay Hamrick consisted of anointing the health care workers’ hands with oil and was then followed by a brief prayer asking for blessings for the staff and their patients. This annual ceremony dates back to Florence Nightingale, often considered the founder of modern nursing, and is commonly performed in conjunction with Nurses Week.
“It’s an honor just to have a presence so the health care workers know that they are cared for and thought about,” said Hamrick. “These blessings bring encouragement for those with a faith background, but it’s open for everyone. It provides a connection to faith in the workplace.”
Under usual circumstances, the chaplain would join hands with the nurse and they would then pray together. This year, however, the staff followed COVID-19 social distancing guidelines and the prayer took place with a few feet separating them. Chaplain Hamrick also performed blessings with staff over videoconferences.
“We are here today to affirm and to encourage nurses,” said Capt. Nancy Wilson, chief nursing executive officer and senior nurse executive Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command (NMRTC) Patuxent River. “We are here to prove they are valued and to provide spiritual care to those who need it during these troubling times.”
“Each year, the blessing of hands provides nurses an opportunity to reflect upon the intrinsic value of their work and the healing touch they bring to those they care for,” said Capt. Kathleen Hinz, NMRTC commanding officer. “The blessing of hands often brings comfort and healing to nurses and reaffirms their commitment as a source of selfless giving of themselves to others in need.”