Efforts begin for Faith Community Nursing program
By GALE PIFER, Contributing Reporter
Efforts are under way to establish a Faith Community Nursing program among the various churches in Madison. The idea was first discussed three years ago when Jim Iverson, administrator of Bethel Lutheran Home, served on a statewide task force to look into the possibility of having trained, professional nurses work within the church communities. The concept was aimed primarily at providing service to the elderly.|
Iverson said that by the year 2025, it is projected there would be 900 more people over age 65 in Lake County beyond what there is today.
Iverson approached the local Ministerial Association. At the time, only St. Thomas Aquinas had a similar program. Grace Wolf and Shirley Barker, professional nurses, provided the service. Since then, however, both have retired, and St. Thomas hasn't had a program for the past two years.
Discussions now center on the need for extended professional nursing service among the churches, not only for the elderly but also for expectant mothers, teenagers and others.
The Rev. Elizabeth Pagnotta at St. John Lutheran Church said the need exists for a wide range of services.
"Providing home nursing care to those in need fits well with the church's role of caring for all of God's people, not only their spiritual needs but physical needs as well," Pagnotta said.
She mentioned problems that face young people: drugs, bullying and other social problems.
"And also the needs of those who are dealing with divorce and the loss of a spouse. Suicide prevention, end of life discussions and home safety are all topics of concern to our church members," Pagnotta said.
The Revs. Constanze and Dirk Hagmaier of Trinity Lutheran Church have both had experiences with the faith-based community nursing concept.
"Pastor Dirk worked with three churches in Mitchell who banded together to provide the service in that community," said Constanze Hagmaier. "Parish nurses bring another set of eyes and ears to our ministry in helping the people of our community. We as pastors aren't necessarily trained in the nursing aspects of caring for people, although we are deeply concerned with both the spiritual and physical health of our people."
She said a parish nurse can serve as a link between health-care professionals and the ministry.
Hagmaier said as part of the overall study of providing the Faith Community Nursing concept here, a series of blood pressure screenings and other health aids will be held throughout the summer and fall.
"These programs will be for the benefit of all age groups and serve as input for the betterment of all our citizens," she said.
Assisting the Ministerial Association in providing community nursing is Carol DeSchepper, who works with the Avera Parish Nurse Center. A task force has been formed to meet monthly.
"We'll spend the next nine months or so to determine what the needs are and find out which churches would be willing to make a commitment to the program," DeSchepper said. "The Faith Community Nurses wouldn't take the place of regular nurses or those private, for-profit services that provide home health care."
The program will consist primarily of volunteers, but all will be registered nurses with current state licenses. They will undergo 40 hours of required training in the Faith Community Nursing program.
"The Faith Community Nurses will be an important source of referrals for services in the community, coordinating existing services and supplementing them with holistic health and caring," DeSchepper said.
Parish nursing began in the mid-1980s in Chicago through the efforts of the Rev. Dr. Granger Westberg, who believed professional nursing is consistent with the basic assumptions of many faiths that people care for self and others as an expression of God's love.
According to Wikipedia, Faith Community Nursing is recognized as a specialty nursing practice and has received approval from the American Nurses Association.
DeSchepper said that the churches will explore the possibilities of joining forces to provide the nursing services.
Iverson said Bethel Lutheran Home might be able to assist in providing such things as insurance and other items as related to providing nursing services in the community.
"If we are successful in establishing the community nursing service, there will be no cost to those receiving the care," said DeSchepper. "It is expected the churches will take care of expenses as part of their overall mission of helping people of their congregation and community. We will be more of a presence rather than a hands-on care, but will also be able to help people navigate the increasingly complex health-care system."
DeSchepper stressed that no church has committed itself beyond spending the next few months studying the proposal or providing education to the community and membership.
Iverson said the proposed nursing care program, if accepted, will "certainly be for the betterment of our community."
©Madison Daily Leader 2013
Send us your community news, events, letters to the editor and other suggestions. Now, you can submit birth, wedding and engagement announcements online too!
Copyright © 1995 - 2013 madisonet.com All Rights Reserved.