Artist turned chaplain honors healthcare workers with priceless gift

May 16, 2024

Baptist Health System celebrates National Hospital Week May 12-18

Chaplain Dennis Schramek present his painting
Chaplain Dennis Schramek presents his painting during National Hospital Week 2024 to Connie Thigpen, associate chief nursing officer at Baptist Medical Center.

(San Antonio, TX) ¬¬– After 32 years as an art teacher in the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD), Dennis Schramek, now 76 years old, isn’t slowing down. After retiring from his teaching job, Schramek began volunteering at Baptist Medical Center downtown until he was officially hired 14 years ago as an associate chaplain in the Pastoral Care Department. “Chaplain Dennis,” as everyone there affectionately calls him, not only ministers to sick patients and their families every day, he also ministers to the nurses, physicians and staff.

This year, in honor of National Hospital Week (May 12 – 18), Chaplain Schramek went above and beyond to pay tribute the dedicated healthcare staff at the hospital by creating a special painting in their honor. His acrylic on canvas, which he named “Compassionate Hands,” depicts the hands of actual Baptist Medical Center staff: Family Medicine Physician Elisadel Figueroa, M.D., and Nurse Debra Briseño, RN, who care for patients every day. Nurse Briseño was also a patient at the hospital.

Chaplain Darrell Boswell, director of Pastoral Care at Baptist Medical Center, said the painting is especially meaningful to the healthcare teams at the hospital.

“Chaplain Dennis supported all of us through some of the most challenging times in our profession,” he said. “He provided spiritual guidance, encouragement, and prayer that helped get us all through the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, he continues to help us all succeed daily in our healthcare calling,” Chaplain Boswell said. “His talent as an artist is incredible and inspiring to all of us and he uses his gift for the good of all,” he added.

Connie Thigpen, associate chief nursing officer at Baptist Medical Center, said Chaplain Schramek’s painting is a priceless gift that will be displayed on the wall of the hospital’s Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) for all to admire.

The acrylic on canvas Compassionate Hands
The acrylic on canvas "Compassionate Hands", by Chaplain Dennis Schramek, depicts the hands of an actual doctor and patient/RN at Baptist Medical Center.

“His painting is a reminder of the reason we all do what we do every day,” Thigpen said. “Our calling as healthcare professionals is to care for others with compassion, empathy and excellence. It’s our privilege. Chaplain Dennis’ gift illustrates our vocation perfectly and helps celebrate it during Hospital Week and every day,” Thigpen said.

Originally from Victoria, Texas, Chaplain Schramek said he grew up with a keen interest in and love of art. “When I was in elementary school in Victoria, I won awards for my artwork. In middle school, I had the honor of being taught by well-known Texas artists Simon Michael and Dalhart Windberg, who also called Victoria home. They both helped me along in my dream of being an artist and art teacher,” he said.

Chaplain Schramek said he earned a scholarship that allowed him to attend and study art at Texas A&I University in Kingsville (now Texas A&M-Kingsville). While attending college, Chaplain Schramek used his artistic talent to do work in sign lettering for various businesses. He married his sweetheart Barbara in 1972 and graduated from college that same year. Soon after, they moved to San Antonio where Chaplain Schramek taught art in the SAISD and retired after 32 years there.

Chaplain Schramek and his wife, Barbara, have been married 51 years. They had four children and now several grandchildren. In his free time, Schramek also serves as a part-time minister for the Little Church of La Villita in downtown San Antonio and paints as much as he can.

“I love what I do and I work with the best people at Baptist Medical Center,” Chaplain Schramek said. “I’m proud to be able to give from my heart and hands to honor them and all healthcare workers,” he said.

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