Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 9, 2006
Nuns' compassion alters career path
Caritas Health Group president says the Grey Nuns stirred his spirit
"Working for the Grey Nuns in my early 20s helped me understand the value of service in faith-based health care,"
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Patrick Dumelie was determined to build a career where success would be measured largely in monetary terms. The more he had, the better he was doing.
But then he met the Grey Nuns in Saskatchewan.
By seeing the sisters' compassion and commitment, Dumelie gained a broader outlook on what success really meant.
"Working for the Grey Nuns in my early 20s helped me understand the value of service in faith-based health care," said Dumelie, 41. "It was a calling for me. It changed my perspective."
A change of plans
He had planned to work only one year as an accountant for an organization run by the order. Five years later, he was still there.
"I was hired as their financial officer to put in good business systems. But when I saw their passion and the value of the work they were doing, I was impressed," he said. "They were committed and it inspired me."
Dumelie brought that sense of commitment and service to Edmonton in July when Caritas Health Group appointed the Regina native as its new president, replacing interim president Sheli Murphy.
"I know that in my position I can create a direction that empowers our staff to serve. We want to care for individuals and the community. We steward the mission that allows us to look at all the dimensions of caring, including the spiritual."
Dumelie plans to continue the proud 110-year tradition of Catholic health care in Edmonton that began when the Sisters of Charity (Grey Nuns) of Montreal founded the General Hospital in 1895.
His first impression of Caritas was formed by a brief conversation with three staff members when he came to Edmonton for an interview.
"They didn't know who I was just a guy in a suit. We rode up the elevator and carried on a conversation. They were engaging.
"I thought that if this is the way the organization is, I want to be a part of it."
Caritas is currently undertaking a 10-year plan to chart its future and Dumelie is grateful the board has been patient while he became familiar with his new position.
"We intend to look (both) at what we bring that strengthens the public system, and where our opportunity is to have faith-based health care bring innovation and creativity to improve the quality of service."
Dumelie has been in health care administration for 17 years. Most recently he served as senior vice-president of health services in the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region.
With an annual operation budget of $296 million, Caritas employs nearly 5,400 staff, making the organization the largest faith-based service provider in Alberta.
Some 1,200 volunteers contributed 133,000 hours of service in 2005.
Caritas hosted more than 104,000 emergency visits and 6,900 births.
Low staff turnover is an indication that the people who come to Caritas enjoy the working environment and are people willing to carry out the ministry of faith, Dumelie said.
In a time when it is difficult for organizations to find employees, he believes that gives Caritas a competitive advantage.
"That is the strength of Caritas," he said. "For many, they get the calling. These are fantastic individuals. They are a shining example of who we are."
Patrick and his wife Stephanie have two boys. He likes to spend his spare time with his family or at the hockey rink playing or coaching.
The family has joined St. Thomas More Parish.
"The strength of the Catholic community in Edmonton is remarkable," he said.
"Over the next couple of years, I'd like to explore working collaboratively with Catholic Social Services, for example, to see how we might better offer our services."
He says growth is important to increase Caritas' ability to carry out its mission.
"These are exciting times in Alberta. Growth is everywhere, including health care. There is much opportunity for Caritas to nurture a partnership with Capital Health as well."
With the Canada Health Act in place as a social safety net, Dumelie believes that having private and public organizations delivering services side-by-side is not a bad thing.
Competition keeps an organization on its toes.
"As good stewards of the resources we get, we need to ensure we are efficient.
"If there is a perception that private can do it better - as long as the bar is the same and that we are caring for the entire population and not the easy-to-serve folks - I'm up for that."