A Spiritual Approach to Care at St. Paul's Hospital

What we do is listen to the stories and focus on the people. It is a ministry of presence.
- Connie Lachappelle, former Manager of Spiritual Care Services

Being sick and in the Hospital can be a worrisome and sometimes unnerving experience. When our own health is altered, or when a close friend or family member is ill, we feel vulnerable. Having someone to talk with or simply receiving the gesture of a comforting touch on the shoulder can help us cope. 

At St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon, complete care for the patient – physical, emotional, and spiritual – dates back to the leadership of the Grey Nuns, who founded the Hospital in 1907. St. Paul’s Hospital has been leading Spiritual Care in the Saskatoon Health Region since 2000, and has been offering nationally accredited programs in Clinical Pastoral Education since 1992. 

Spiritual Care has always been part of the Hospital’s holistic approach to healing.  Connie Lachapelle, Manager of Spiritual Care Services at St. Paul’s Hospital is one of the staff members who responds to the spiritual care needs of patients and their families from all faiths and backgrounds.

“What we do is listen to the stories and focus on the people,” Lachapelle says. “It is a ministry of presence. We build relationships so a person knows he or she is not alone; that someone is prepared to be with him or her and provide comfort during changing health.”

Every patient admitted for an extended period of time will receive at least one visit from Lachapelle or her team members. She divides her attention between those visits and calls to attend at the bedside of patients who are critically ill.

“We usually see patients or families in crisis,” says Lachapelle. “Whether helping someone cope with illness, accompanying a family struggling to make decisions for a loved one’s care or assisting family members to make arrangements for a funeral, I am there as a spiritual resource My role is to listen with compassion and give hope – but not false hope – during their journey at the Hospital.” This aspect of the journey to healing often involves the help of other members from St. Paul’s Hospital staff, generally nurses and social workers. 

Spiritual Care Services works closely with members of the community including clergy of various faiths and many dedicated Hospital volunteers. It can help arrange a visit from a spiritual leader of a patient’s own faith background or from a First Nations or Métis Elder. Upon request, Confession, Communion and the Sacrament of the Sick (anointing) are made available, as are copies of the New Testament scripture and  Psalms.  St. Paul’s Hospital welcomes patients and families of all faiths, and within the building offers several sacred places for seeking spiritual strength including a Chapel, a First Nations Prayer and Ceremonial Room and a Multi-faith Stillness Room.

Above Photo: (l-r) Former patient Robert Piercy speaks to Connie Lachapelle, Manager of Spiritual Care Services in the Multi-faith Stillness Room at St. Paul’s Hospital.