Diocesan coordinator provides hospital chaplaincy at two city hospitals

In a photo taken before the COVID-19 pandemic, Hospital Chaplain Jackie Saretsky visits with a patient. Conditions have changed with COVID-19, but hospital chaplains Saretsky and Fr. Emmanuel Mbah of the diocese of Saskatoon continue to provide spiritual care to those in hospital. (File photo by Tim Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

By Jacqueline Saretsky, Hospital Chaplaincy

[This article is part of a “Fuel-Up Friday” series in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon]

My name is Jacqueline Saretsky and I have been employed as the Hospital Chaplain for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon for five years.

I have one son Luke, who is married to Gina; they have a son Julian Emmanuel, who is 1 ½ years old and the joy of my life. I recently sold my house and moved into a townhome. This allows me more time to spend with family, friends and personal interests, such as traveling to a different place in Saskatchewan each summer.

As the hospital chaplain, 50% of my time is spent at Saskatoon City Hospital and Royal University Hospital, visiting patients. The other 50% of my time is working with volunteers, administration and education.

During the pandemic, the hospital chaplaincy volunteers have been temporarily cancelled, leaving Fr. Emmanuel Mbah and myself to visit as many patients as possible in hospital.

I am thankful for our presence in the hospitals throughout this pandemic. Many patients are in isolation due to a positive COVID test and other flu viruses. During this time, visiting in hospital for family members is with permission only and for one hour per day. This puts a great responsibility on hospital chaplaincy to attempt to fill the void, as there are so many needing support. The Saskatoon Health Authority has recognized hospital chaplains as part of the care team, which allows us to freely enter the hospitals to visit patients.

Since the fall of 2017, I have been working on teaching good end of life and palliative care through a workshop called Dying Healed, which the diocese of Saskatoon has purchased from Life Canada. I have been teaching this workshop in many locations in the diocese of Saskatoon, the diocese of Prince Albert, as well as in The Pas, Manitoba.

During the pandemic, I have moved from delivering an in-person day-long workshop, to an online workshop on the Zoom platform.

These workshops, including those adapted to online, have been very successful. Promoting palliative care, and educating others about good care that is available, is an opportunity for me to teach that there is another way for people to experience end of life. Euthanasia is not the answer.

I am available to do a workshop in your area: call 306-292-5531, or email jsaretsky@rcdos.ca