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Fitting with its name, Tuesday's "Day of Hope & Healing" was a commemoration of the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings that was marked with optimism, pride and emotion.
BWHers came together in Bornstein Amphitheater throughout the day to hear from President Betsy Nabel, MD, as well as physicians, nurses, staff, survivors and family members with lessons learned and sentiments to share about last year's tragedy.
In many ways, it was also a time to reflect-during a calming service hosted by Chaplaincy and amid other quiet moments throughout the day.
Raising a New Flag
BWH leaders Betsy Nabel and Ron Walls help to raise BWH's new Hope & Healing flag, which will fly on April 15 each year.
The series of events opened with a special flag-raising ceremony by the entrance to 45 Francis St. With bright, yellow daffodils in hand, BWH staff and community members gathered to witness the raising of the American flag and a new "BWH Hope & Healing" flag.
"Today, for the first time, we will raise our Hope & Healing flag as a sign of respect for how we came together as a community one year ago," said Nabel. "It represents how we as a Brigham community unite together to care for people when they need it most."
BWH Security staff members who served in key posts at the hospital on the day of the bombings marched in unison to the flagpole with the flags in hand. Together, Nabel and Ron Walls, MD, chair of Emergency Medicine, raised the flags to half-staff, as Mark Anderson, IT project manager for the Department of Medicine, sang the national anthem. Each year on April 15, BWH will fly the blue Hope & Healing flag as a sign of respect and allegiance.
To close the ceremony, Anderson sang "What a Wonderful World" as attendees placed their daffodils-which symbolize new beginnings-at the base of the flagpole.
Patient and Family Reflections
From left: Marathon survivors Jarrod Clowery, Heather Abbott and Nicole Gross share their reflections one year later.
Bombing survivors and their family members returned to BWH to share their own stories of new beginnings in a talk show-style question-and-answer session with Senior Vice President of Communication & Public Affairs Erin McDonough, MBA.
Heather Abbott, Jarrod Clowery, Nicole and Michael Gross, and Gillian and Audrey Reny all answered questions about their lives since last year's Marathon and discussed how they are giving back to others today.
Abbott, who has become a peer counselor and motivational speaker, meets with fellow female amputees to share her journey with them. Clowery has started the Hero's Hearts Foundation to combat childhood bullying. The Grosses, both avid athletes, are committed to helping others with injuries improve their health and fitness. The Renys founded the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Fund to fuel innovative research and clinical programs in trauma healing and limb reconstruction and support fellowships and training for plastic surgeons here at BWH.
"We really wanted some way to show how thankful we were for all of the helpful, amazing support that we received from the hospital," said Gillian Reny.
Social worker Arden O'Donnell, LICSW, who worked with many of the patients after last year's bombings, recalled that even in those early days while still in the hospital, many of them already knew they wanted to help others. "It's so inspiring to stand here today and see that the seeds of the ideas you had almost hours after all this happened have grown into something that's inspiring for so many people."
Celebrating Teamwork, Unsung Heroes
Reiki coordinator Julie Hahn (at right) thanks BWH's volunteers for their hours of service following last year's Marathon, providing relief for staff.
The day also featured two events that underscored the importance of teamwork and highlighted the critical role every department played in the hospital's collective response.
A multidisciplinary rounds event brought together physicians, nurses, physician assistants, Environmental Services and Patient Care Services staff and others who cared for injured Marathon patients in the immediate aftermath and weeks later.
"We were effective as individuals, teams and as a hospital," said Walls. "We all rose together."
Physician assistant MacKenzie Bohlen, PA-C, later added: "I am empowered by knowing that on the most challenging day of my career, we came together to care for patients and the community."
An "Unsung Heroes" event in the afternoon honored dozens of individuals and departments for their support, efforts and guidance behind-the-scenes.
"An unsung hero is someone who has not been publicly recognized for their efforts," said co-host Maureen Fagan, PhD, RN, executive director for the Center for Patients and Families, in opening the event. "Well, that is about to change." The audience responded with hearty applause.
Honorees ranged from the Surgical Pathology team, which examined hundreds of pieces of evidence for local and national authorities in the weeks following the Marathon, to volunteers, who provided hours of Reiki and healing resources to staff. (See below for the complete list of unsung heroes.)
"It was overwhelming to be on the other side of big feelings-of fear and anxiety," said Stacey Bukuras, of Patient and Family Relations, while honoring Social Work and Chaplaincy staff. "Your quiet assuredness, kindness and compassion guided us."
Also during the day, the city's tribute event at Hynes Convention Center was broadcast on television screens across campus. Musicians played peaceful music around the hospital, and BWHers returned to Bornstein for a 2:49 p.m. city-wide moment of silence, marking the time of the first bombing.
Betsy Nabel greets Robert Meade, of Engineering, during leadership's evening rounds on April 15.
Hospital leaders rounded on the floors later that evening, thanking night staff and distributing Hope & Healing buttons.
Complete List of Unsung Heroes:
Carolyn Hayes, PhD,RN, NEA-BC, associate chief nurse
Yvonne Michaud, MS, RN, Division of Trauma, Burn and Surgical Critical Care
Social Work Department
Communication & Public Affairs
Patient Access Services
Ron Walls, MD, Emergency Medicine
Kraft Blood Donor Center
Betsy Nabel, MD, BWH president
Nancy Kleiman, BWH harpist
Nick Pierce, Tower 8 Burn/Trauma
Employee Assistance Program
Karina Rosario, Norwood Primary Care
Emergency Operations Center
Health Information Services