Photos provided by Christina Lobraco

April 1, 2019

Team uses ‘encouragement stones’ to spread joy, hope

You are loved. You can do anything. Be brave.


Encouraging phrases and messages of kindness are being shared with staff and patients at AMITA Health’s medical facilities. The phrases are printed on small polished stones and shared with staff by members of the Clinical Mission Integration team.

This team provides spiritual support and promotes whole-person care to AMITA Health’s outpatient associates and physicians. Christina Lobraco, Clinical Mission Integration specialist, created the initial concept of distributing encouragement stones to associates in need of a few words of support on the National Day of Encouragement, which occurs every year on Sept. 12. Since then, team members have been sharing the stones during site visits.

“The response to the encouragement stones has been heartwarming,” said Janet Kennedy, Clinical Mission Integration specialist. “One associate selected ‘You are loved’ to present to her friend’s teenage daughter who was struggling. Associates are now coming together to create and offer stones to patients.”

While visiting AMITA Health Medical Group Oncology & Hematology Bolingbrook, Lobraco was able to see first- hand the positive effect the stones had on patients. “One patient who looked familiar stopped me and said that I had given him a stone a while back and he now keeps it on his dresser,” said Lobraco. “He said shortly after he received the stone, he got the great news from his doctor his cancer had decreased by 50 percent in three months and his outlook for full recovery was great. Talking to him about it was such a spiritual experience for us both.

“Another patient chose a stone with the message ‘I got this,’ and showed it to his wife and exclaimed, ‘You just said that!’
I loved seeing his smile and the tears it brought to his wife’s eyes,” Lobraco said.

Physicians and staff are welcoming having a spiritual resource at their sites, said Heather Hoffman, regional director, Clinical Mission Integration. “Because these are offices located off-campus, outpatient staff didn’t have access to the spiritual care support that is available at the hospitals,” she said. “Now we come to them, and the response has been overwhelming.

“We recently visited a physician for the first time, and we gave him an inspirational Scripture card and asked if there was any- thing we could pray for,” Hoffman said. “He said there was nothing at the time, and we went on to talk with other staff.

“But minutes later, he came looking for us, and asked if we could pray for a staff member whose husband had died the
week before. We were able to provide grief resources and prayer for her and the office. Our staff and physicians want to take care of each other. All it took is a little awareness that the support is now available to them.”