Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 23, 2002
75 years of compassionate care
St. Joseph's Auxiliary Hospital celebrates a lifetime of service
By RENATO GANDIA
"Being at this place has given me a new life."
- Anne Wotypka
Within a seven-hour period on Nov. 15, 1993, 186 residents were transferred from the old site to the new hospital. One week after, the facility for continuing care was inaugurated and a palliative care unit was added later.
On March 31, 2001, the Sisters of Providence transferred sponsorship of the hospital to the Alberta Catholic Health Corporation, but four sisters remain to continue their mission.
For 39 years Sister Mary Benilda has worked at the hospital, first as a purchasing officer and now as a spiritual and religious care person.
"It's a nice place. You come in the morning and you can feel how cheerful the place is," the sister told the WCR.
"It is a bright big building with great facilities that people in continuing care should have at the end of their lives. There is compassion, trust and care within this community."
After morning Mass, Benilda, with other pastoral care people, visits residents who couldn't come to Mass and brings them Communion. There are also different services in the chapel led by Anglicans, United, Presbyterians and other communities.
"We like to bring people together. Working within this environment is special and life giving, she said.
Over the years Benilda has worked with people with whom she has had profound experiences.
One that she won't forget is a man who died praying the rosary.
The man would pray the rosary at every nook where there's a statue of a saint. When Benilda asked the man why he did that the man said, "I need to do this because I was a bad boy when I was younger."
The man got sick and they went to his room to say the rosary with him.
"In the midst of saying the rosary, he kind of looked up and smiled the nicest smile and that was his last breath. I am very sure Our Lady came and took him to heaven. That was a very touching experience," related Benilda.
Irene Ankers has been a resident for five years and eight months.
"They gave me three months to live when I came in. But it was different and enjoyable being here. I didn't notice that five years have gone. I think once people get adjusted they really like it here."
Ankers is happy and satisfied with the care she receives at the hospital. "They are very compassionate and considerate and ready to help you all the time," she told the WCR.
"They gave me three months to live when I came in. But it was different and enjoyable being here."
- Irene Ankers
Anne Wotypka, another resident, said, "Being at this place has given me a new life."
"Right now I think I feel better than I ever have in my life," said Wotypka, who had liver problems when she came to the hospital. "Everybody is so caring."
Frank Ignacio, nursing attendant, has been working at the hospital for 27 years. A former policeman from the Philippines, Ignacio finds working for the palliative care patients rewarding.
"At this unit, we are glad that in our own way we touch the lives of these people and their loved ones."
Executive Director Marilyn Snow said, "Our founders quickly learned and willingly embraced the sacrifice and commitment required in establishing a hospital and in turn they taught others working with them by word, deed and example."
"It is for us now to keep such teachings alive and continue providing quality care with compassion in the Christian tradition."
To mark its 75th anniversary, the hospital will have an open house on Saturday, Sept. 21. Guests will be given a tour of the facility and an old-fashioned high tea and entertainment will be offered between 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
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