Delivering compassionate care: St. Paul’s Hospital Executive Director Tracy Muggli has built a career helping the most vulnerable

Tracy Muggli is the new Executive DIrector of St. Paul's Hospital in Saskatoon. (Photo courtesy of St. Paul's Hospital)

By Ashleigh Mattern

When Tracy Muggli stepped into the role of Executive Director of St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon on April 1 this year, she had to hit the ground running. She started her new role in the midst of a pandemic and she’s one of the site leads responsible for COVID-19 planning at St. Paul’s Hospital.

“I learned very quickly about negative air pressure and how to install temporary walls and doors in a building,” Tracy said. “It’s been quite an enormous responsibility to take on in my early days to make sure that we are doing everything we possibly can to not only provide safe care but also in a safe space,”

Owned by Emmanuel Health, St. Paul’s Hospital is a Catholic Hospital founded in 1907 by the Grey Nuns in response to a typhoid outbreak. A decade later, the hospital found itself fighting an influenza pandemic (1918-1919).

“As the Grey Nuns envisioned more than 100 years ago, the core value of compassionate care was key to their service delivery, and here we are, more than a century later, stepping up and  delivering compassionate care during a pandemic.”

Tracy draws inspiration from the founding values of the Grey Nuns and their legacy of service and compassionate care in Saskatoon. She has worked in Saskatchewan health care for decades, drawing on her professional training as a social worker and leading efforts to improve outcomes for those facing mental health and addictions challenges.

“I’ve spent the last 32 years of my career trying to help people who are the most vulnerable in our community and I believe St. Paul’s Hospital is a place where I can continue that work and build on it,” she said.

One of her goals as Executive Director is to help create a more welcoming experience for people who access the hospital.

St. Paul’s Hospital is already in the process of hiring someone on a three-year term who will help to re-design the hospital experience.

She’s also excited about the new Hospice at Glengarda, the first-freestanding residential hospice in Saskatchewan, under construction in the former Ursuline residence on Hilliard Avenue in Saskatoon, thanks to a $20-million Close to Home campaign by St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation.

“We shine in the palliative care realm and now, with the hospice coming on board, Emmanuel Health can enhance holistic and compassionate care, and the respect and dignity that we give to the clients and patients who need our services.”

Related: Close to Home campaign reaches goal for building hospice and strengthening end-of-life care

Tracy grew up in Muenster, SK., home to St. Peter’s College and St. Peter’s Abbey. She’s an alumna of the College and has served on its board of governors for the last few years. She said growing up in a small Catholic community taught her the importance of community service and giving back.

“You’re involved, you’re engaged and you give of your time. You have to keep your community alive. Everyone has a role to play whether it is in the church, the community hall, the school or sports and recreation activities; it’s part of how you thrive as a community.”

Even in her spare time, she’s engaged in the community and has served on several boards supporting newcomers who are making Saskatoon their new home, as well as philanthropic initiatives, such as the Saskatoon Community Foundation in its efforts to raise money for the Community Fund for Reconciliation. Volunteering is in her DNA. She also loves attending festivals, live theatre and music shows — which sometimes feature performances by her 22-year-old son Ayden.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, many of her favourite activities are on hold, and she still hasn’t had the opportunity to have a formal walk-through of the hospital yet, but she’s optimistic about the future and her role in making St. Paul’s Hospital a centre for high quality, holistic care.

“I’ve spent my entire career finding creative ways to support people whose needs aren’t always met by the formal systems we have in place,” she said. “My personal philosophy is there’s always a better way. It may take creativity and time and a great deal of effort but I learned that positivity and strong teams will always bring improvement.”