Reprinted with permission from The Life Line, SPH Staff Newsletter

By Jean Morrison, President and CEO of St. Paul’s Hospital, Saskatoon Health Region

This spring, I received an email from Dr. Morris Markentin, informing me that one of the residents who had stayed at Sanctum Care Home had passed away. Dr. Markentin said the resident was a very special person who influenced Sanctum more than they helped her, and had taught him something that he had thought he already knew.

Dr. Markentin shared the following:

“Our vision is for a community in which individuals requiring this assistance are able to attain their optimum level of health from their perspective, minimizing their vulnerability and maximizing their control and dignity. Sanctum recognizes the need to provide care with humility and without prejudice.”

“It took several visits with her for me to learn that my way, my treatments, that my vision for her health, were mine and not hers – she certainly must have thought I was a slow learner as it took me a long time to get that she did not want treatment for her HIV, but to live her last days in her way. I am humbled to have been taught by her. She also taught us the resiliency of the human spirit, but also the fragility of the human condition.”

When I read Dr. Markentin’s words, all I could think was “Wow, what a lesson.” How often does each of us assume we are putting the best interests of a patient and their family first, and not really hear the message they are trying to give us? This lesson truly gets to the heart of patient and family centered care. The patient and family know what is best for them, we just have to take the time to hear and accept the message.

Dr. Markentin’s words had a profound effect on me and I share them with his permission.

Jean Morrison, President and CEO of St. Paul's Hospital in Saskatoon.

Jean Morrison, President and CEO of St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon.