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

Person airlifted to hospital after collision near Innisfail

One person was airlifted to hospital after a serious collision west of… Continue reading

Sunny weather improves farmers’ prospects

A harvester kicking up dust. It’s a picture that will bring a… Continue reading

Rural transit pilot project being considered

Penhold, Innisfail and Red Deer County councils to decide whether to go ahead with project

Red Deer fire station up for sale

Home sweet home at Fire Station 4

‘Stupid’ law preventing Canada’s re-engagement with Iran: retired envoy

OTTAWA — The real reason the Liberal government hasn’t been able to… Continue reading

Voters head to polls for BC municipal elections today

VANCOUVER — Voters in British Columbia will head to the polls today… Continue reading

All sharks tagged in N.S. expedition can now be tracked on Ocearch website

HALIFAX — All six of the sharks tagged in Nova Scotian waters… Continue reading

Memorial service for former PQ minister Lise Payette today in Montreal

MONTREAL — Mourners will gather to remember former Parti Quebecois cabinet minister… Continue reading

Immunotherapy scores a first win against some breast cancers

For the first time, one of the new immunotherapy drugs has shown… Continue reading

‘Mom I’m in trouble:’ Canadian, Brit face 10 years in jail for alleged graffiti

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — The mother of a Canadian who was arrested… Continue reading

Coyote on the prowl near Penhold

This coyote was out on the prowl in a field just west… Continue reading

Most Read