Spiritual care continues to be offered in Saskatoon hospitals in spite of cuts

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski

[SASKATOON]  –  If a patient at a Saskatoon hospital wishes to have a pastoral visit, wants to receive holy communion, wishes to see a priest, or longs to have someone to pray with, Jackie Saretsky hopes that they will ask.

Although provincial government funding for spiritual care has been cut in most health facilities, pastoral visits are still available from denominational chaplains and volunteers, stresses Saretsky, diocesan coordinator of Hospital Chaplaincy, an office supported by gifts to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal. The Grey Nuns and St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation donations fund the spiritual care offered at St. Paul’s Hospital.

The elimination of spiritual care funding and departments in hospitals has led to the elimination of patient lists for clergy and volunteers, which means patients must actively request pastoral visits.

Patients at Saskatoon City or Royal University Hospitals can contact Saretsky at jsaretsky@rcdos.ca or (306) 292-5531 to ask for Catholic chaplaincy services. Patients at St. Paul’s Hospital can ask at the nursing desk or call (306) 655-5000 to request spiritual care.

At a recent diocesan Administration Day, Saretsky encouraged pastors and parish leaders to build awareness about the need to actively request spiritual care services, given recent cuts to spiritual care funding in the province.

“If more people who are registered patients in the hospital ask for a chaplain, the health authority has to provide chaplains… we need to keep advocating for that.”

Saretsky is also actively involved in promoting and presenting the Dying Healed program. The workshop addresses how to respond to suffering, deal with end-of-life issues, and provide compassionate care in an era of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Dying Healed workshops have now been offered in Saskatoon, Humboldt and Unity. Saretsky has also given several presentations to local groups, coucils and organizations about the vital need to provide good palliative care.

“We need to set hearts on fire; to get people to the bedside to offer care and support, long before “MAID” (Medical Assistance in Dying) is called in,” she said, describing the new reality with the legalization of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia in Canada.