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Vanderbilt Health Remembers memorial service honors patients, families, staff

Dec. 6, 2023, 9:44 AM

by Matt Batcheldor

For the fourth year Vanderbilt Health held “Vanderbilt Health Remembers,” a special virtual memorial service to remember patients who have died as well as their families and caregivers. The Vanderbilt community and the public are invited to watch the approximately 35-minute ceremony, which is now posted at

The Bereavement Committee for Vanderbilt University Hospital (VUH) and Vanderbilt Health organized the virtual event, which honors patients who received care in adult inpatient settings and in clinics around the region during the last year. Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt has hosted a similar ceremony, Time for Remembering, yearly since 1998.

More than 5,200 families of Vanderbilt Health patients were invited to submit names of their loved ones, and about 350 families responded and were honored in the ceremony, said the Rev. Ian Cullen, MDiv, Palliative Care chaplain for Vanderbilt University Medical Center and co-chair of the Bereavement Committee. This year’s program included speakers and stories from across the regional hospitals, main campus and clinics. New for this year, patients were honored with photos alongside their names.

“I would like to thank you for choosing Vanderbilt to care for people who are your loved ones,” said Travis Capers, president of Vanderbilt Regional Community Hospitals. “Today, our staff grieve with you. We offer you a message of peace and hope through words of remembrance and beautiful music.”

The virtual service started three years ago to acknowledge patients who died of COVID-19 at a time when families couldn’t visit their loved ones in person. But the program quickly expanded to honor all who died in the care of VUH, then to all of Vanderbilt’s regional hospitals. It’s also an opportunity for VUMC staff who cared for patients and families to reflect on how much they meant to them.

“We are grateful for being part of their story and part of your story. As a team, we rejoice when patients get to go home, and we mourn when patients are lost,” said Jeanne Yeatman, MBA, RN, chief nursing officer for Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital. “We are sorry for the death of your loved one. We grieve with you, and they will never be forgotten.”

Though the event began as virtual by necessity because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is continuing as virtual because the video format is such a good way to reach families spread throughout the country. Families of patients can stream the program at their convenience over the next year.

The Rev. Tamika Robertson, MDiv, a staff chaplain for Vanderbilt Health, shared patient stories and offered a blessing.

“Our hope is that you will find peace flowing like a river,” she said. “Peace be with your broken heart, and peace be with your soul as you remember your loved ones.”

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