Crafting Comfort and Faith: Penn State Health St. Joseph Medical Center Nurse Carves Ergonomic Crosses for Patients

When Eric Trubilla, a critical care nurse at Penn State Health St. Joseph Medical Center, noticed a patient holding a Cross designed with accessibility in mind, he felt called to act.

The woodworking enthusiast thought about the scraps of wood he had in his garage at home and how he could help patients. His plan took shape – in the form of beautiful, hand-carved ergonomic Crosses. The Crosses are curved, making it easier for patients to hold.

Since the summer, Trubilla has donated dozens of his creations to the hospital’s clergy, who offer them to patients for comfort in their time of need.

“Eric is such a good, kind-hearted man who really exemplifies our mission and core values,” said Alexandria Cirko, vice president of mission and ministry at St. Joseph Medical Center.

“His actions and the immense caring he has for our patients and their families are a gentle reminder that in addition to the expert medical care and incredible technological advances we’ve made, it is compassionate support that truly makes a difference in comfort and healing.”

Trubilla sees supporting patients’ emotional and spiritual needs as an integral part of his role at the hospital.

“We’re here to take care of the sick and the injured, and that goes beyond their physical needs,” said Trubilla. “When the hours are long and the emotions of our work start to get to us, holding one of these Crosses can help lift our spirits and remind us that we’re here for a purpose.”

Some of the Crosses Trubilla has given to patients and staff alike received the blessing of Bishop Alfred Schlert.

Throughout 2023, St. Joseph Medical Center has commemorated its 150th anniversary.

On Aug. 22, the anniversary of the day in 1873 after the Sisters of St. Francis answered the call of Monsignor George Bornemann to open a hospital in Reading, Bishop Schlert celebrated a special Mass and led a bench dedication. He also took time to bless several of the ergonomic Crosses.

By Leslie Penkunas


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