Covenant Health launched the Palliative Institute in 2012 to respond to a growing need for end-of-life care and to help Albertans make informed choices about their present and future health care.
What is palliative care?
The World Health Organization (2002) defines palliative care as “an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.”
What we do
Our goals are to help ensure people across Alberta have timely access to high-quality palliative and end-of-life care and to provide leadership and advocate for a robust national palliative and end-of-life care system.
We work with others in the health system, researchers and policy makers, alongside the community. We want to help Albertans facing serious or life-limiting illness have the best possible quality of life and get quality care aligned with their wishes.
Palliative care is part of Covenant’s heritage and continues to be a priority today. This goes back to the Sisters of Charity (Grey Nuns) of Montreal, who came to Alberta in 1863 with a calling to dedicate their lives to caring for the sick and vulnerable. The Grey Nuns saw the need for palliative care and established the first hospital-based program in the city at the Edmonton General Hospital in 1985. The program aimed to provide a more interdisciplinary approach based on a better understanding of the complex and evolving nature of pain.
In 1988, the Grey Nuns Community Hospital established its tertiary palliative care unit. It has since evolved into a world-class, multidisciplinary program for practitioners, students and researchers from around the world. Palliative care clinical services have also grown throughout Covenant to include seven dedicated clinical units, dedicated beds in sites across the province and a consult team serving the Grey Nuns hospital and Misericordia Community Hospital in Edmonton.
As well, the Grey Nuns hospital was instrumental in creating a regional palliative care program in 1995 (now the Edmonton Zone Palliative Care program) and the Palliative Care Education and Research Conference, which we now host.