In preparation for my 9-hour day at the hospital, my contact at BI Needham was fantastic getting behind-the-scenes scheduling done for the various departments. Kristel and Mike, my wonderful go-to people, understood the need to be discreet and respectful and took me to each new department, making sure we were on schedule and getting the shots we needed to capture the essence of the hospital with many different people and departments.
The people running the hospital were also so incredible. John Fogarty, the president and CEO, is extremely friendly and approaching, all while seamlessly managing the hospital. And Samantha Sherman, the chief development and external relations officer, has such a kind heart and a passionate drive to make the hospital the best it can be.
I was in constant awe of the people I was photographing. It takes a certain person to be able to care for others in such a way. I was especially touched beginning the day in the OR as nurses and doctors quietly went over each case. I felt privileged to be witnessing their incredible talent and strength. I was able to get a picture of a doctor headed to OR with a patient, and I felt that the image sent such a powerful message about how important her patients are to her. That was the case across the board for nurses and others as everyone blew me away with their compassion and love over and over again.
At one point during the day, we were sitting in oncology waiting for one of the doctors to come out so I could photograph him. While we were there, a patient struck up a conversation with me. She was in the middle of chemo and was wearing a scarf after having lost her hair. She had been having a difficult day and for some reason felt that she could confide in me that she felt she just could not go on anymore and wanted to stop her chemo.
Well, being a breast cancer survivor, I shared with her my experience. I told her that I had finished chemo and radiation 16 years ago and impressed upon her how important it was that she finish ALL of her treatments, even though I, too, had lost my hair. We swapped diagnoses and which stage our cancers had been, talked about our children, hugged, and cried together as only fellow survivors can.
I told her that if I could do it, she could do it. I told her that she MUST listen to the doctors, because they knew what they were doing to keep us alive. When it was all said and done, after I’d gotten the photos I needed, the woman approached me again, this time with newfound strength and purpose. “I am going to finish my treatments,” she told me! It was such an incredible and powerful moment and one that I will never forget. I was so grateful that I happened to be there when she needed to talk to someone that had been through it before, and my heart was so full. I still think about that woman on occasion, and I hope that, someday, she will be able to pass along her experience to another woman in need of being uplifted.
I spent the rest of the day documenting nurses, doctors, hospital staff, administrators, volunteers, employee bus drivers, and valets. Every person that I encountered had a smile on their faces and genuinely cared about the people they were caring for, and I was struck by how very important each of those jobs were to keep the hospital running smoothly. It was amazing to photograph these people making such critical decisions and yet doing it with such strength and compassion.
I was also able to get some images at the hospital’s new café, “The Trotman Family Glover Café.” It was a gift in memory of Mrs. Valerie Trotman’s husband, Alex Trotman, and the café has become not only an important part of the history of the hospital but also a fantastic place for physicians, patients, and others to gather.
I feel so blessed to live in this state and have access to the best doctors in the country! I’ve been honored to work with Beth Israel for many years, and I’m excited about each new project as I get to see the progress of the hospital, improving each year upon the last with kind and generous donations. More than ever, hospitals need the help of philanthropy, so if something about this shoot or this story resonates with you, I would encourage you to reach out and contribute.