PRINCE ALBERT — Representatives from Roman Catholic dioceses, school divisions and health services in Saskatchewan gathered in Prince Albert for the annual Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan (CHAS) conference with the theme, Inside Out: Spirituality and Quality in Health Care. Participants were invited to reflect on how their personal calling contributes to Catholic health care’s mission to provide high-quality health care.
Speaker Kenneth Pargament spoke on Bridging Research and Practice. He provided an overview of the current status of research on spirituality and health for better patient outcomes and clinical practices. Using evidence gathered over 25 years, he presented a strong rationale for spiritually integrated health care.
The theme of Pargament’s second presentation was Cultivating Sacred Moments in Health Care. He spoke about sacred moments as part of the healing process for patients, families and providers themselves.
As an example, Pargament spoke of a patient who suffered from heart failure. She was not a good recipient for a transplant. After being resuscitated three times, she told him she chose to “go gently into that good night.”
“That was a sacred moment with her,” Pargament said.
He explained sacred moments and what they meant, those which included transcendence, ultimacy, connectedness, boundlessness, generation of spiritual emotion and transformation.
On the second day, participants had a choice of breakout sessions. One session featured Danica Liske, who at the age of 17 became a full-time caregiver for her father, who had Alzheimer’s. In another session, Jon Gilchrist, an ethicist from Covenant Health in Alberta, explained his understanding of what makes Catholic health care unique. The third choice saw Dr. Joy Mendel explain the impact on the ruling of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia on the Canadian health care system.
Three awards were handed out at the banquet. Shirley McNeil of Saskatoon, whose role in health care brought an invaluable perspective to the CHAS board, received an honourary membership to CHAS. Scott Parker of Battleford, a palliative care provider and educator in his community, received the Moola Freer Award. Finally, the CHAS Mission Award was presented to Larry Stang of Macklin, who brings with him a compassion that is borne out of his commitment to his faith and desire to develop a nurturing community for all.
Sister Mary Jean Ryan, FSM, was the keynote speaker for the second day. Ryan founded Sisters of Saint Mary (SSM) Health, whose name pays tribute to those early sisters who provided loving care for people who were sick. SSM Health is a Catholic, not-for-profit organization serving the health needs of communities across the Midwestern United States through one of the largest integrated delivery systems in the nation.
Ryan shared her experiences navigating the many challenges SSM Health has faced while becoming an exceptional institution in an ever-changing world. Delivering high-value health care that is affordable, sustainable and convenient to every patient is integral to their care.
“Providence had a big hand in our success from the very beginning,” she said. “My formation as a nurse was the foundation to making the SSM spectacular.”
The conference ended in a celebration of the eucharist. Board and staff members were called forward in a commitment ceremony, where they accepted the responsibility and challenge of providing leadership to the association and to witness to the healing ministry and abiding presence of Jesus.
In his homily, Bishop Albert Thévenot, M.Afr., stressed that the knowledge received at the conference gave all participants a mission and a responsibility.
“We have to find a way to respond to patients’ needs,” he said. “We have to go beyond what is asked, give all we can, to show we are called to excellence.”