- The Washington Times - Friday, May 8, 2009

CITIZEN JOURNALISM:

Canon Michael Marrett, a hospital chaplain and pillar of strength for years at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Northwest, suffered a reversal of fortune last summer when he had a stroke and became a patient at the very hospital in which he worked.

“Before [my stroke], I could leave it here,” he said. “Now, I’m more concerned about the work that is done in the hospital. I take more time [with patients], I listen more, and I’m concerned - really concerned - about their well-being.”

The hospital staff, he said, “told me not by words but by actions that I was a person of worth and I should not give up. There was still work for me to do.”

Mr. Marrett spent 12 days in inpatient care and about three months in outpatient treatment.

“For the first time, I found myself on the other end, being ministered to instead of doing the ministering,” he said.

His experience made a difference in his interaction with patients, he said.

“When I tell them I was there, it lights up a hole in their life altogether, and I find them opening up and telling me more than they normally would,” he said.

Several techniques and tools allowed Mr. Marrett to work on his balance, vision and hand-eye coordination.

“His body had to respond, which is not just building strength but building meaning,” said occupational therapist Connie Gershin, who worked with the priest. “He learned to listen to his body better.”

A priest for 47 years with the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, Mr. Marrett has worked at St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal/Anglican Church in Adelphi and at Church of Our Saviour in the Brookland neighborhood in Northeast.

He now helps at the Parish of St. Monica and St. James on Capitol Hill, but he feels more attached to his hospital work than ever.

“I’ve taken on more than I’ve given up,” he said. “The hospital means a lot to me now - not that it didn’t before - but I really feel like I belong here.”

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