'Standing on the shoulders of giants'
The COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented time for health care providers around the globe, with historic challenges. But at St. Joseph’s Health Care London, trail blazers of long ago have helped guide the way. They are the pioneering Sisters of St. Joseph who laid an indomitable foundation of responding in times of great need – with respect, excellence and compassion.
This legacy can be felt at all times within the walls of St. Joseph’s, but now it can also be heard. To offer inspiration and encouragement to staff and physicians during the pandemic, Dale Nikkel, Coordinator of Spiritual Care at St. Joseph’s, is connecting today’s care providers to the legacy of the Sisters through song. He wrote and recorded the The Whisper of the Sisters, which was recently shared across the organization.
“The Sisters of St. Joseph faced contagious diseases at different times in their history,” says Nikkel. “Records show that back in 1899, there were times when one-third of the hospital beds were occupied by patients with typhoid fever – a significant epidemic at the turn of the century. They would also have provided care when the Spanish flu infected hundreds of thousands of Ontarians a century ago, spreading fear and panic. It’s a different time. And a different disease. But we follow the same spirit of togetherness and compassion today, ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ to navigate these current challenges.”
Nikkel has been writing songs for many years, performing in cafes, churches and folk clubs, using music as a form of expression and celebration. His musical outlet these days is playing guitar with his family bluegrass band with his wife and three children. In The Whisper of the Sisters, accompanied by historic as well as timely photos taken at St. Joseph’s, Nikkel reminds staff and physicians that strength and courage can be found in the spirit and “gentle whisper” of the Sisters.
If you let yourself be still,
you can hear the gentle whisper
of the voices of the Sisters,
the Sisters of St. Joseph
And they’re calling out our names
Telling us to be the change
And in trials that we face,
They’re with us all the way
“Now more than ever, all members of the St. Joseph’s family are living the values instilled by our founding Sisters of St. Joseph,” says Dr. Gillian Kernaghan, President and CEO of St. Joseph’s. “The Whisper of the Sisters is truly a moving and beautiful tribute to the Sisters and all who carry on their work today.”