St. Raphael’s Guild

“Hi, are you Pam?, I’m Dan.  Nice to meet you.” Thus began a night of enjoying Mass, dinner and discussion at my first St. Raphael’s Guild meeting!

Even though I have lived in Duluth for four years already, I had not heard about this group until three weeks ago, when an announcement was made at Sunday Mass about a White Mass for all health care professionals being held later in October. Even though I knew I wouldn’t be able to go (it fell on mid-semester break), my curiosity got the better of me and I found myself going on the website listed in the bulletin to find out more, as I had never before heard of a White Mass (What is a White Mass?). Hence, my discovery of St. Raphael’s Guild, a group of Catholic health care professionals from the Duluth area.


Fr. Knobloch

At this meeting, Fr. Tom Knoblach from St. Cloud talked about the process of making ethical decisions with us and discussed a few different case studies with us.  As a first year pharmacy student, it was nice to delve beyond learning chemistry and how to write up case reports for a few hours and discuss situations that health professionals face when it comes to ethical decision making.  My two favorite things that I learned from Fr. Knoblach was two of his many thought processes on how to make a decision where ethics are involved;  the first was asking if the intervention was ordinary vs. extraordinary, the second was using the acronym PREHAB. PREHAB stands for:

P-Patient Preferences-what does the patient want? (healthcare over the last several years has been increasingly moving toward patient autonomy)

R-Risks-what are the risks involved if we intervene?

E-Expenses-while this shouldn’t be an important factor in the decision, it is still a factor.

H-Hope-what do we hope to achieve by intervening.

A-Availability-is the treatment/intervention available at your site/hospital/in your country? (i.e. the option to have a feeding tube is not necessarily an option in poorer countries)

B-Benefit vs. Burden-Is the emotional burden worth it?  How important is the benefit (i.e. in a patient who wants to live to see their grandson’s baptism, the benefit of living those few extra months is greater than a patient who does not have the same goal)




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