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Spiritual Health Care at NRGH

By February 15, 2024February 16th, 2024News

Incorporating spiritual care within healthcare, whether by health professionals or community visitors, has long been integral. Professional spiritual health care at NRGH commenced in the mid-1990s, initially with Chaplains coordinating religious visitors and providing spiritual and religious care. The program evolved to include Spiritual Health Practitioners in 2013, aligning with the BC Framework for Spiritual Health.

We spoke with one of the two Spiritual Health Practitioners, Marysia Riverin, to gain insight into this vital role for patients in our region.

Spiritual Health Practitioners support patients and families through emotional, existential, and spiritual distress.

“Our aim is to assist patients and families with spiritual or existential needs and concerns. We facilitate exploration of what imbues their lives with meaning and purpose, drawing from their beliefs, cultural backgrounds, values, traditions, and practices,” Marysia explained.

Addressing spiritual needs can significantly benefit patients and families, leading to:

  • An increased ability to find meaning amid illness, injury, and trauma
  • Enhanced capacity to cope with pain and discomfort
  • Improved overall well-being
  • Reduced feelings of anxiety, loneliness, fear, depression, and anger
  • Greater acceptance of end-of-life and a palliative approach to care, with a clearer understanding of their values

The facilities, largely funded by donor dollars—including the new ICU and the future High Acuity Unit (HAU), as well as NRGH’s ‘Gathering Space’ provided by the hospital Auxiliary—offer the necessary space for the specific emotional and spiritual support each patient and family member requires.

“In sharp contrast to the old ICU, where conversations and consultations had to take place in cramped quarters or in open public spaces, the new ICU significantly improves how health professionals can fulfill their roles and support loved ones in their spiritual, emotional, mental, and relational needs. We are more than just our physical selves, and this project enhances the overall well-being of those we serve. Thank you!” Marysia expressed her gratitude.

To learn more about the role of a Spiritual Health Practitioner during hospital care, simply ask your nurse, doctor, or social worker, or visit the Spiritual Health page at

Thank you, Marysia, for sharing the crucial work your team performs!