Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 28, 2004
Sisters hand over hospital
Sisters of charity of Notre Dame d'Evron bid adieu
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
After 94 years at the helm of St. Joseph's Hospital, the Sisters of Charity of Notre Dame d'Evron are transferring sponsorship of the facility to the Alberta Catholic Health Corporation, an entity of the Alberta bishops.
"We don't have enough sisters to maintain the sponsorship of the hospital and so we have decided to turn it over to a group that is capable of carrying it on," said Sister Mary Ellen O'Neil, superior of the order.
"It's a very emotional time for all of us, but we simply don't have enough personnel to continue in this administrative and corporate role."
Two pastoral sisters
Out of 350 sisters worldwide, the Sisters of Charity only have 26 sisters in Alberta, most of them retired. Two sisters currently providing pastoral services at St. Joseph's will remain there until their retirement.
A ceremony to turn the hospital over to the ACHC was held in Vegreville June 10, but the official transfer will take place July 1.
St. Joseph's, a 32-bed acute care facility with 150 employees, is the 10th Catholic health care facility taken over by the ACHC since the entity was established more than a quarter century ago. The Alberta bishops established the ACHC in 1976 to ensure Catholic management and operation of Catholic hospitals that religious orders are forced to give up.
Under the sponsorship agreement, the ACHC has the right to approve any changes in the philosophy or mission of St. Joseph's Hospital, to appoint the board of directors, to appoint the chair of the board and to participate in the selection of its CEO.
"The goal of the ACHC is to ensure that the mission of the Sisters (of Charity d'Evron) continues on into the future and that (St. Joseph's) hospital is run based on the Catholic Health Ethics Guide," said Tom Wispinski, chair of the ACHC's 12-member board. "We are very pleased that the sisters chose us to be the sponsor."
The Sisters of Charity arrived in Vegreville with the mission to start a hospital in 1910. They operated the facility out of the church's rectory until 1911, when they opened a 40-bed hospital on the current site.
In 1915, the sisters opened a school of nursing in the hospital, which they kept going until 1971. Over 400 registered nurses graduated from the school.
The sisters demolished the old hospital in 1965 and built the current facility on the same site.
The hospital had its beds reduced from 65 to 32 during the health reforms of the 1990s.
Sad to lose sisters
"We are very sad by the fact that we are losing the sisters who have provided tremendous leadership and support to the community for the last 94 years," said hospital administrator Eugene Rudyk.
"(Fortunately) their mission and philosophy will remain in place with the ACHC."
Seven months ago the Sisters of Charity turned St. Mary's Health Care Centre in Trochu over to the ACHC and next year they will transfer an active hospital in Bonnyville.