Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
November 19, 2001
Caritas appoints new head from within
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — An Anglican health care professional with a long record in Catholic hospitals is the new president of the Caritas Health Group, the corporation that runs the Misericordia, Grey Nuns and Edmonton General hospitals.
Bev Rachwalski, an Anglican who has served in Edmonton-area Catholic hospitals for 17 years, was appointed to the position in mid-October.
"I'm extremely proud and honoured to have received this appointment," she said. "It's because of the spirit of this organization that I want to be here and that I want to take on the leadership role."
A health professional since 1969, the Taber-born Rachwalski is no stranger to Caritas, having served as interim president of the health group since last May, when former president Carl Roy left for Vancouver to lead the Providence Health Group. She holds degrees in sciences, occupational therapy and health services administration from the University of Alberta.
Her relationship with Caritas and Catholic health care goes back to 1984, when she began work as quality assurance coordinator at the Edmonton General. She has also served as site administrator and vice-president of the Grey Nuns Community Hospital since 1995.
With an annual operating budget of $203 million and an army of 4,700 employees and 1,250 volunteers, Caritas Health Group is Alberta's largest faith-based provider of health care. The group operates 428 acute care beds in both the Misericordia and Grey Nuns and 455 continuing care beds in the Edmonton General.
Its service activity is phenomenal with an average of 113,000 emergency visits, 6,450 births and 30,000 surgical cases each year.
"The decision to have myself appointed to the position was a very exciting decision for me," Rachwalski said. "I put my name forward because I felt very much that at this point in time I wanted to contribute to Caritas by being in the president's position."
Her overall goal is to continue to work toward the advancement of Caritas' mission of healing the body, enriching the mind and nurturing the soul, and ensuring that the community receives the best care possible.
"Our mission is grounded in the tradition of our Catholic founders and we need to continue to be vigilant and intentional in continuing to advance it."
Health reform is necessary, the Caritas president says, but it has to be influenced by fundamental values.
"When you talk about health care and health care reform you cannot only talk about the economics side of that but you must talk about the fundamental values that we all embrace, whether we are faith-based or other organizations," she stressed.
"I hope we don't lose sight of the things that are important. Our work is to serve the community and particularly the community of those in need and the marginalized."
Rachwalski admits her job is challenging but said support and caring from coworkers give her the strength she needs. She also finds "rejuvenation" and "energy" in solitude and reflection.
"It isn't necessarily spiritual praying, although I do do that, but sometimes is just the solitude and the ability to be alone, to reflect," she said. "Prayer and reflection really guide me to do what's best for the common good."
She also does "physical things" such as walking and golfing to "remove myself from the stressors."
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