184 Court Street, Binghamton, NY 13901
Parish Nursing - an old idea with a new twist.
Think about the places in our community for health care. Is your faith community among those places? Actually, churches are not new to health care. They started many of our first hospitals from religious-based organizations. In fact religious sisters and deaconess's were many of our first nurses. Faith communities were the organizations that cared for people in need, brought people together and shared the joy of life with them. People consist of body, mind and spirit and all three components need care for ideal wellness. Parish nurse ministers provide the link between traditional health care and spiritual health.
Lourdes Hospital started a parish nurse program in November of 1994. The program was modeled after the one started by a Lutheran minister, Rev. Granger Westberg (1913-1999) in the mid 1980s. He is considered the father of parish nursing and founder of the International Parish Nurse Resource Center. He believed that "nurses have one foot in the sciences and the other in the humanities," and that good health is more than the absence of disease.
In 1998, the American Nurses Association (ANA) recognized parish nursing as a specialty role. In 2005, the ANA changed the role to "Faith Community Nursing" to be more inclusive of all faiths. According to the ANA definition, a parish nurse is a registered professional nurse who serves as a member of the ministry staff of a faith community. Their role is to promote health and wholeness of the community.
Most of the diseases in our country are "lifestyle diseases." One's spirituality plays an important role in wellness. A deeper understanding of how precious life really is and connecting with God may serve as the catalyst to make some healthy life style choices. To value and respect life as a basic belief of many faiths, each needs to ask how we are going to care for our precious gift - our life.
The Parish Nurse Ministry Program has been a natural extension of Lourdes service, since Lourdes is a religious-based health organization. To reach out to people and offer assistance has always been a part of the mission of the Daughters of Charity. Our program accomplishes two goals: it allows the nurse an opportunity to deepen her spiritual life by being a part of a health ministry and it provides a service to members in need of a congregation.
Our program is working with more than 40 faith communities representing at least eight denominations and independent faith communities. Each faith community's program differs according to the time and talents that the nurses bring to their program. Parish nurses' activities can include the following: exercise classes, blood pressure checks, health fairs, blood drives, home, nursing home and hospital visits, a health library, prayer chains, a bed roll ministry, soup kitchen's health ministry project and providing educational speakers on various health topics.
Lourdes supports the program by providing a coordinator to help congregations start and maintain parish nurse and health ministry programs. We offer a three-hour Introduction to Parish Nurse Ministry, publish a monthly newsletter the Mustard Seed for parish nurses, health ministers and clergy and hold monthly parish nurse and health ministry meetings on the first Tuesday of each month from 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM to offer educational opportunities for parish nurses and health ministers. Our most important goal is having a presence that helps remind people that health is wholeness, salvation and shalom.
This service is open to all faiths/denominations. If you are interested in parish nurse ministry or starting a parish nurse ministry program for your congregation, please call Kathy Medovich, RN, Parish Nurse/Health Ministry Coordinator for Lourdes at 607-321-2633 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org