Covenant Health
This week's reflection

This week's reflection

I believe the second half of one's life is meant to be better than the first half. The first half is finding out how you do it. And the second half is enjoying it.

Frances Lear

Edmonton Journal Letter to the Editor

February 18, 2016

Re: ”If Covenant Health won’t obey law, it should not get public funds” Paula Simons, February 13, 2016

Recognizing the emotionally charged and complex issue of physician assisted death in Canada, I would like to respectfully address several inaccuracies in a recent column written by Paula Simons.

Paula Simons suggests that the Supreme Court ruling will force Covenant Health and our 15,000 physicians, staff and volunteers across the province to abandon our calling and commitment to providing compassionate, quality care to all who enter our facilities. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Covenant Health employs and serves people of all cultures, traditions and circumstances. We respond with compassion and respect to anyone who seeks care or verbalizes a request to end their lives. Consistently for over 150 years in Alberta, our response seeks to understand both the anguish and hopes of those we serve—a response of affirmation that asks “How can we best support you?” rather than, “No, we don’t do that here.” This includes timely transfer of care to another institution for further assessment, as we do effectively with other services that are not provided at our sites.

It was this same compassion—walking with patients, residents and families—that led the Sisters to establish and pioneer quality palliative and hospice care in Edmonton, a system that is recognized and studied around the world. Along with the national palliative community, Covenant Health champions access to end-of-life care that neither prolongs or hastens death for all Canadians as a core health service.

In all of our programs and facilities, Covenant Health will continue to meet its legal and service obligations, collaborating with others as a partner in an integrated health system to co-ordinate care according to the policy and direction set by Government.

The Supreme Court ruling has brought unprecedented and momentous change at this point in history. We are working in humility and openness with others across the country, with our physicians, the Colleges, Alberta Health Services and our Catholic sponsor, to navigate this issue. Together we can all learn and benefit from mutual dialogue and thoughtful, ethical reflection.

Patrick Dumelie
President and CEO, Covenant Health