by Adventist Today News Team

Health care with all of its sophisticated science and high-tech innovations still boils down to the hands of women and men who "dispense medication, perform surgeries and mop floors," wrote reporter Michelle Manchir in the Chicago Tribune last week. This is why chaplains at Adventist Midwest Health System hospitals in the Chicago suburbs perform the annual ritual of the Blessing of the Hands.
 
Most of the 1,400 staff members at the hospitals in Hinsdale, La Grange, Bolingbrook and Glendale Heights "were eager to have it done," the newspaper reported. "It's a nice reminder that there's a spiritual component to what nurses do," Chaplain Mark Woolfington said. "Many of our staff are Roman Catholic [for whom] a blessing takes on a little bit different significance."
 
The ceremony involves a prayer, anointing the hands with oil and thanking the staff members for their work. It is done in small groups as the chaplains visit each unit throughout the month, including night shifts. "Some turn it down … but most are happy to have it."
 
"It means a lot to me," patient care technician Rosa Zapata was quoted. "I know God is guiding." Amy Kosowski told the Tribune reporter "it makes me a better nurse," helping her to let patients know that she cares about them. It gives her "that extra edge to be a good nurse and protect my patients," she stated.
 
"It may be something new to many Seventh-day Adventist Church members," a veteran pastor told Adventist Today. "It is common to ask for God's blessings on meetings, new or refurbished buildings, vehicles and printed materials. In health care the hands of the professionals and trained workers are all more important than any of those things, so it is a logical extension of a long tradition."