(Media release from Atrium Health Floyd):

Caregivers carry a tremendous burden, and when the person they are caring for is unable to care for him or herself, well, sometimes the toll is almost too much to bear.

Mr. Smith is the sole caregiver for his wife. She uses a wheelchair and is completely dependent on her husband and the staff at Cherokee Medical Center (CMC) for her care. One day, when Mr. Smith’s wife was scheduled for a Computed Tomography (CT) scan, Jade Perry knew that team of radiologic technologists at CMC might need her help.

She had just finished her lunch break and decided to see whether she could relieve one of her teammates so they could take a break. When Jade walked into the CT area, Kerry Sayre and Kaci Lowe were standing with Mr. Smith while Lettie Harris and Jamie McDonald attended to his wife. The usually cheerful and smiling Mr. Smith was in tears. His raw emotion caused Jade to think the worst.

This particular day, Mrs. Smith was not very responsive to her husband or her care team. Her condition and the fatigue of caring for the love of his life prompted an emotional response for which Mr. Smith apologized.

“I’m sorry. I just needed a moment,” he said, but no apology was needed.

“Let’s take a break,” Kerry and Kaci told Mr. Smith. The scan could wait. At this moment, it was Mr. Smith who needed care. They invited him to share his feelings.

As he spoke, Kerry, Kaci, Lettie, Jamie and Jade gathered around him, and when he finished, Kaci offered to lead the group in a prayer with him. There, in the quiet of the CT area, the six of them bowed their heads and prayed for Mr. Smith and his wife.

After the prayer, the team performed the scan Mrs. Smith needed, and when it was complete, Kaci escorted them back to the emergency department. When she didn’t return immediately, Jade wondered if there had been another incident with the Smiths, but that was not the case. She had decided to remain with the Smiths a while longer and pray with them again.

Jade said she was intensely moved by her team’s response.

“It was just sweet,” she said. “They took a minute out of the chaos that happens at the hospital. They stopped everything they were doing to give him a moment to let out his frustrations and stress and to just pray with him.”

Mr. Smith returned later to thank the radiology team for their compassion.

“I don’t usually let my emotions get to me,” he told them, “but today was just hard.”

“It’s hard being the primary care giver, especially for someone who cannot do anything for themselves,” Jade said. “Seeing our team respond made me proud of all of them for giving him that space to be vulnerable.”