Parish Nurse/Health Ministry
Health ministry addresses the issues of health, wellness, and healing. It involves the spiritual, physical, and emotional part of life. It can bring all of the caring ministries of the congregation together under one umbrella, with the parish nurse as a resource present in the church
Lifestyle and environment make up much of the influences on our health. Many persons need a caring and nurturing environment to make lifestyle changes. The church nurtures and cares for people like no other place in a person's life. As you know, it was the church that began care for the sick, and built the first hospitals in America.
The church has been intimately involved with the unity of body, mind and spirit in the Old and New Testaments. Parish nursing gives this concept a visible presence in the church, as a volunteer or as a paid position. The parish nurse works with the pastor as a part of the church staff, health cabinet, and other caring members, to add to the healing mission of the church. It is the only place people can be cared for during their entire lives--body, mind and spirit.
How do we do this?
The parish nurse interacts with members on a weekly basis and more often as needed. Frequently with elderly groups, the parish nurse is aware of subtle changes in their health before they may sense something is wrong. An intervention can take place before an emergency arises.
A health ministry impacts health behavior. We see people regularly, or have known them for years...we may know their families and their traditions. We walk with them in their own social support system. We are where they are.
A listening ear
Someone just to talk to--problems, concerns, someone to pray with or go along as an extra pair of ears at a doctor appointment. We answer questions and pray with you before surgery or an important test; then explain results and offer a hug when results are good---or a challenge.
We are available to continue supportive home visits after a hospitalization or clinic visit. This may assure compliance to taking medicine, following physician's orders, checking blood pressure, or encourage actually doing those physical therapy exercises. Through these visits, we arrange volunteers, food, and watch for complications to prevent adverse incidents. We are a quiet presence to answer questions and monitor changes.
An emerging group of persons requesting nursing counsel are young to middle aged men. You know, the guys who don't want to go to the doctor. They are finding the parish nurse approachable, and confidentially ask questions in a safe or neutral place--their own church. There is a lot of potential for preventive health and connecting the wholeness of the human spirit. We privately refer them as needs arise.
As a health educator, the parish nurse teaches classes , counsels, writes articles for the bulletin or monthly newsletters....relating values, lifestyle choices, faith and well-being.
As a facilitator, the parish nurse recruits, coordinates, and resources within the congregation, and develops support/small groups. This includes the relationship between faith and health, as we are temples of our God.
Rev. Deborah Patterson from the International Parish Nurse Resource Center states: "Our mission of wellness and prevention touches lives across generational, cultural, socioeconomic, and religious lines, connecting health care systems and congregations---blowing open the doors of churches into the community."
We are excited and honored to be a part of the collaboration and friendship with faith communities, bring our mission of health ministry to the quad cities, surrounding counties, and rural areas of Iowa and Illinois.
Would you like more information? If so, please contact:
Jennifer Hildebrand RN, BS, WCC
Coordinator of Health Ministry