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“Healthcare is Human” exhibit opens September 25

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The COVID pandemic brought to light the long hours, challenges and sacrifices healthcare workers and support staff have long endured to serve their communities. Their stories are the subject of “Healthcare is Human,” a new exhibit at WVU Health Sciences Center.

The WVU Humanities Center extends an open invitation to the opening of “Healthcare is Human” on September 25 from 3-5 p.m. in the Okey Patteson Auditorium and the Health Sciences Center Pylons Commons.

The event will include the debut of a short film about “Healthcare Is Human” and a panel discussion, followed by a reception. Those who cannot attend in person may attend via Zoom with preregistration.

“‘Healthcare is Human’ started as a modest project, but today has immense dreams of helping to reshape our understanding of who and what matters in healthcare,” Dr. Ryan McCarthy, a primary care physician in Martinsburg, W.Va., said. “From the perspective of a single story told in one’s own words and images, we hope to shine a light on a wider view of our common experience.”

In the spring of 2020, McCarthy stopped an elevator door from closing in the Berkeley Medical Center (BMC) to ask two other people who worked there how they were holding up. In his rendition of the story, this led not only to a 20-minute conversation, but was the genesis of his healthcare storytelling project.

While “Healthcare Is Human” was born of COVID, it reframes the approach of gathering the stories of healthcare well beyond the pandemic.

Collaborating with portrait photographer Molly Humphreys, McCarthy set out to create an outlet that showcased his home hospital by elevating the stories and pictures of those who work there – not just physicians and nurses, but all workers, from security guards, administrative support, cafeteria workers, janitors and beyond.

The Humanities Center is partnering with McCarthy, Humphreys and their other creative partners to bring “Healthcare Is Human” to the Morgantown Campus and beyond. A yearlong photo exhibit, paired with poems from West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman and other West Virginia poets, will be on display in the Pylons Commons for the 2023-2024 academic year.

The exhibit, video and programming were made possible in part from James M. Shumway & Lizbeth A. Pyle Health Humanities Fund, Phalunas Family Health Sciences Museum Endowment, and the Betty Lou Ramsey and Effie Lucille Ramsey Fund.

The Humanities Center and its partners, Art in the Libraries and the William A. Neal Museum of the Health Sciences, in collaboration with WVU Health Sciences Center are excited to share this inspiring work.

In addition, the Neal Museum is collecting stories and items for a companion exhibit. For more information read this article.