Hospital chaplains fall victim to provincial budget
The people who provide spiritual guidance and counselling in Saskatchewan hospitals will soon be forced to look for employment elsewhere after the program fell victim to the provincial government’s sweeping budget cuts.
“They are saving $1.5 million in salaries and costs associated with this, but I mean, odds are it’s going to come back and cost many times that in terms of impact on the system,” said Philip Weaver, president of the Canadian Association of Spiritual Care.
“Studies have shown that spiritual care actually ends up saving money to the system rather than costing money to the system. So people who end up receiving spiritual care during their hospitalization generally have a shorter length of stay, fewer infections post surgery and shorter costs associated with their end of life process.”
Currently, there is no timeline on the government’s decision to pull funding from the program.
Calling it a “short sighted attempt to save money,” Weaver noted Saskatchewan will be the only province in Canada that doesn’t provide this service to its patients and employees. He said the Fraser Health Authority in B.C., which removed funding from its chaplaincy program in acute care facilities late in 2009, has decided to reinstitute the program.
Weaver said chaplains are there to help anyone who needs it, regardless of their spiritual or religious beliefs. He noted it’s not about dealing with physical injuries but helping understand and deal with emotional trauma and new situations, such as coming to terms with losing the ability to walk or putting a child up for adoption.