AHS is cutting hospital chaplain contracts in favour of using more community volunteers

Local pastor calls it a “Grinch” move that diminishes essential service.

BY LANA MICHELIN

ADVOCATE STAFF

Alberta Health Services is changing the way it delivers spiritual care at hospitals in the central zone.

The contracts of about 11 part-time hospital chaplains are not being renewed. Instead, volunteer chaplains from the community will be called upon to minister to the spiritual needs of hospital patients, whenever requests are made.

Terry Wiebe, a pastor at Balmoral Bible Chapel, considers this a “Grinch” move.

“Why, when patients needs are on the rise, is Alberta Health Services eliminating hospital chaplain positions, thereby reducing a support needed by so many?” he questioned.

AHS chief zone officer, Kerry Bales, said there would be no gaps in service.

Community ministerial associations have been very co-operative about expanding their role in hospitals, he added. And in case a church chaplain is not available to come to a patient’s bedside, AHS still retains a few staff chaplains that can go instead wherever a need arises.

(While the term “chaplain” is used, he said different kinds of spiritual assistance is provided at AHS hospitals, not just Christian ministry.)

Bales said this change fixes inconsistencies across the region, as some hospitals had already been relying on volunteer chaplains, while others used the contracted chaplains.

By not extending the 11 contracts, about $175,000 will be saved annually — money that can be used in other areas of patient care, Bales added.

Wiebe, who has never been contracted by AHS, believes ‘on-call’ community chaplains, who were previously only used on evenings or weekends, do not have the training or experience to provide the same level of care as hospital chaplains.

As to the difference in service levels, he said “why would Stettler be expected to offer the same service levels as Red Deer? The needs and resources of a larger centre are different and should be responded to differently.”

Wiebe believes cost cutting measures are diminishing an essential hospital service.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Report finds many birds in decline but co-operation works to rebuild populations

The bad news is that the populations of more than one-quarter of… Continue reading

Raptors coach Nick Nurse says meeting in the works with Prime Minister Trudeau

Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse says a meeting is in the… Continue reading

Trade, China sure to surface as Trudeau meets Trump, congressional leaders

WASHINGTON — Justin Trudeau is headed back to the White House today… Continue reading

Oil shippers boost security after mysterious attacks in Gulf

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A series of attacks on oil tankers… Continue reading

RCMP officer accused of sexual assault could take stand Thursday

Crown prosecutor expected to finish her case in morning

VIDEO: Avengers: Endgame to be re-released with new footage

‘Avatar’ holds global box office record at $2.788 billion, while ‘Endgame’ stands at $2.743 billion…

Quebec’s biggest French school board postpones applying religious symbols law

MONTREAL — Quebec’s largest school board has voted to delay application of… Continue reading

B.C. Conservative MP Mark Warawa dies after cancer diagnosis

OTTAWA — Conservative MP Mark Warawa has died after being diagnosed with… Continue reading

Trump promises help with Canadian detainees in China as Trudeau visits D.C.

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump says he will raise the issue… Continue reading

VIDEO: Avengers: Endgame to be re-released with new footage

‘Avatar’ holds global box office record at $2.788 billion, while ‘Endgame’ stands at $2.743 billion…

‘He gets it’: Bowen Byram set to hear name called early at NHL draft

VANCOUVER — Bowen Byram’s bantam coach knew almost immediately the defenceman would… Continue reading

Guardado scores 2 as Mexico beats Canada 3-1

DENVER — Andres Guardado had two goals in the second half, Roberto… Continue reading

Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews on cover of “NHL 20” video game

Toronto Maple Leafs star forward Auston Matthews will be on the cover… Continue reading

Opinion: Trans Mountain pipeline proceeds should be invested in Alberta

By David Marsden There’s a much-expected sigh of relief now that the… Continue reading

Most Read