SASKATOON — Since St. Paul’s Hospital’s founding by the Grey Nuns 1907, spiritual care has been an integral part of the fabric of the Saskatoon hospital.
The Grey Nuns dedicated themselves to delivering compassionate care that is respectful of the whole person, augmenting medical care with spiritual care and welcoming family and community in the healing process. That tradition of holistic care continues today with St. Paul’s leading spiritual care throughout the region, as well as offering clinical pastoral educational opportunities for health care practitioners.
The value of faith-based health care is fostered by community leaders such as St. Paul’s Hospital’s volunteer board chair Bill Edwards, who believes that faith can do much to deliver an extra level of comfort in today’s health care system.
“There is a different feel at St. Paul’s, contributing to a sense of family more than that of an institution,” Edwards states. He attributes this unique atmosphere to the long history of open arms and respect for all that is rooted in Catholic tradition, and the integration of community and family care into the mix.
“I have seen how staff trust and support each other, and this respect extends to the care given to patients and their families,” says Edwards, who is in his second year of a two-year term as volunteer chair of the board of directors.
Volunteering reflects a longtime Edwards’ family promise, spanning four generations, to improve the spiritual, economic and social well-being of the community. “For me, it is about how we live our lives and treat our neighbours, which is not unlike the beliefs in other faiths.”
Various faiths are represented throughout the hospital by employees, physicians and volunteers, he notes. Edwards’ own faith recognizes the value of honouring the mystery of life and the dignity, worth and uniqueness of each person in the delivery of health care.
“Right from the beginning, St. Paul’s had a very well-defined and strong vision of holistic care,” says Edwards. “This vision continues today with the encouragement of respect for all and compassionate care, and these are the values that are close to my heart as a Christian.”
Edwards has spent more than six years volunteering on St. Paul’s board of directors, drawing on his own philosophies of fairness, integrity, honesty and trustworthiness in his work with the board. For Edwards, the hospital is the foundational pillar that supports the tapestry of the entire community: the faith-based mission and values of the institution are the strong warp (horizontal) threads, while the people engaged in delivering those values are the colourful weft (vertical) threads — with both coming together in strength and beauty to fulfil St. Paul’s Hospital’s vision of a community of health, hope and compassion for all.