Legacy Work

Fingerprint in glass

black and gray handprintLegacy work is a practice that helps patients and their families feel connected to one another, even when they are physically apart. This practice also brings comfort to those dealing with chronic illness, long hospitalizations, or end-of-life. Legacy work brings comfort and connection to both patients and their families, especially children impacted by the patient’s illness.

Fingerprints in shape of heart in glassAt MUSC, Legacy work is done by offering “stones”, glass gems with comforting or commemorative images upon which the patient’s fingerprint can also be placed. Called memory stones, love stones, prayer stones, thought stones, these memory stones can be made by or for patients. Sometimes families will exchange their fingerprints with each other. In this way patients and families have something to hold onto when apart. Family members sometimes use these fingerprinted stones to send their love, prayers or positive thoughts.

Colorful handprints on a blue backgroundOther forms of legacy work may include, handprints on various materials such as canvases, photos of families holding hands, letter writing or cards, journaling, special gatherings (when possible) to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays, weddings, baptisms and other important life events. Legacy work has unlimited possibilities to provide comfort, kinship, and make lasting memories.

Our Legacy Program is supported entirely through grants and donations. If you’d like to give to this program, please visit MUSC Giving and use the “fund of my choosing” option to make a donation to the “Palliative Care Legacy Program”. For questions about our program, contact Jessica Bullington.

“Ellie’s Way” 

Ellie Coyne (October 20, 1958 – June 22, 2016) joined the Palliative Care team in the fall of 2015 and from her first day, she spread her light across our campus. Using nearly 10 years of experience pioneering a palliative care volunteer program at Virginia Commonwealth University, she came to MUSC Health and hit the ground running. She brought expertise in developing and sustaining a specialty volunteer program, providing bereavement support in pediatric and adult populations, community outreach and legislative initiatives for palliative care. A powerhouse of knowledge and innovation, Ellie was also a deeply kind and generous soul. The impact she made on MUSC Health staff, patients, and families was profound and lasting.

fingerprint on paperIn the short time that Ellie was a member of the MUSC Health family, she embodied the mission of the Palliative Care Department – to provide comfort, support, and improve quality of life. A visit from Ellie was a bright spot in a patient’s or family’s day. She put together several events for patients and their families, ensuring that staff had what they needed to participate along with their patients  – a wedding, anniversaries, patient birthdays, even the birthday of a patient’s child. Anyone who met Ellie remembered her smile, easy manner, and warm heart.

While Legacy Work is not something new, Ellie gave it life at MUSC Health. She provided memory stones (her creation) and other supplies to help patients and their families feel connected in times of distress and loss. Boxes filled with Legacy Work supplies, created in Ellie’s honor are present on all inpatient units so that the practice of Legacy Work continues to help our patients and families. These kits are called “Ellie’s Way”.