Emergency Care can be a disorienting experience. Things may happen very quickly, or you may find yourself waiting and unsure. In an attempt to provide information and reassurance for those who find themselves in Emergency Care, Prisma Health has released a helpful trifold guide. On the back, there is a poem by Ed Madden, the poet laureate of Columbia, South Carolina.
Launched at Prisma Health’s Richland Hospital in Columbia on July 17, the guides are now being distributed in Emergency Care departments in Prisma Health hospitals in Columbia and surrounding areas.
The poem is the first project of a Prisma Health poetry team, an initiative first imagined by Alexandra Toney with assistance from Dawn Hill, an organization development consultant for Prisma Health. Toney was a student in Madden’s fall 2018 Creative Writing and Community class at the University of South Carolina. For that class, she led a group project placing poems of hope in hospital waiting rooms. Impressed with that work, Hill invited her to help with the guide and with an ongoing poetry inititative for the hospital system. Toney invited Madden to write a poem for the guide.
To write the poem, Madden said that he thought about his own experiences with family in hospitals. “You feel very isolated,” he said of emergency care. He said that he wanted to write a short reflection, “a short little prayer-like poem about being in that space and that time.” Instead of isolation, he explained, he was “thinking about everyone in that room as part of one community.” It is “a space within which all these very different people are gathered, but really all for one common goal, which is to heal someone.”
The untitled poem reads:
for the lights, the charts
for hands and hearts
for those who heal
for those who are healed
for the time it takes
for those who listen
and those who watch
for those who care
for those we care for
for all those here
“The overall goal,” Toney added, “is to offer comfort to whoever needs it.”
The Emergency Care guide is the first project approved by the system’s new Patient and Family Advisory Council, which works to ensure that patient and family perspectives are included.
See this video for insight into both Toney’s healthcare poetry project and Madden’s poem.