Health and healing can begin within a faith community ÃiÂ¿Â½" thatÃ¢ÂÂs a message Jesus preached to his followers.
ThatÃ¢ÂÂs also the essential philosophy of the Parish Nurse Movement, a relatively recent trend that, in the past few years, has begun to catch the attention of many Lawrence congregations.
In fact, itÃ¢ÂÂs becoming nearly commonplace these days to find announcements in local church bulletins about parish nursing programs that are being developed.
For instance, registered nurse Julie Manweiler was installed in September as the new parish nurse of Immanuel Lutheran Church & University Student Center, 15th and Iowa.
Manweiler, who serves as part of the churchÃ¢ÂÂs pastoral staff, will educate the congregation on issues of health and wellness, refer church members to medical resources in the community and provide basic nursing care by regularly offering blood pressure checks and other forms of health-care monitoring.
ItÃ¢ÂÂs just the kind of position she was looking for.
Ã¢ÂÂI worked in critical care from the very beginning of my nursing career in 1990, and I always felt a need to be able to express my faith a little bit more. I thought, Ã¢ÂÂ'WouldnÃ¢ÂÂt it be nice if you could be a nurse in the church?Ã¢ÂÂ Then God started putting things together,Ã¢ÂÂ Manweiler said.
Adding a parish nurse to the staff, according to Manweiler, is a natural outgrowth of a churchÃ¢ÂÂs concern for the overall health and well-being of its congregation.
Ã¢ÂÂWeÃ¢ÂÂre stewards of the resources that we have, and our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. I think itÃ¢ÂÂs important, as Christians, that we keep a healthy lifestyle. The churchÃ¢ÂÂs mission is to reach out and bring people into a relationship with Christ, but the parish nurseÃ¢ÂÂs mission is to integrate their mind, body and spirit to live a healthy life for Christ,Ã¢ÂÂ she said.
Natural extension of care
Many churches in town would seem to agree with her.
Ã¢ÂÂRight now, I know of nine churches in the city that have or are wanting to begin a parish nurse ministry,Ã¢ÂÂ said the Rev. Angela Lowe, chaplain at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
Part of LoweÃ¢ÂÂs job is to serve on the Parish Nurse Task Force, a group thatÃ¢ÂÂs working to create a local network of parish nurse programs, as well as establish a community link between parish nurses in the area and the hospital.
Lowe recently attended a meeting of the Health Ministries Networking Group in Topeka.
She learned more about the growing trend of parish nursing.
Ã¢ÂÂFirst of all, thereÃ¢ÂÂs a need for it. It seems like people come home from the hospital, and theyÃ¢ÂÂre unsure about which medications to take. Or maybe people are concerned about their blood pressure or their blood sugar,Ã¢ÂÂ Lowe said.
Ã¢ÂÂInstead of running to a clinic or their doctorÃ¢ÂÂs office, people in their church can do some of that for them. ItÃ¢ÂÂs the basics of nursing care.Ã¢ÂÂ
Parish nurses can offer a variety of services to their congregations, according to Lowe. They can visit church members who are in the hospital, or who have just come home from treatment there. They can take people to their medical appointments or on other errands.
Some parish nurses deliver taped sermons and church bulletins to members who are homebound, or provide bereavement packets, with information about grief and loss, to those who could benefit from them. Parish nurses are typically available to offer blood pressure checks, answer basic questions that people might have about their medications, or check out medical equipment, such as walkers and wheelchairs, to members who need them.
Some work full or part time and are paid for their services, while others are volunteers.
Ã¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs natural, in the sense that a church wants to provide care for its members,Ã¢ÂÂ Lowe said. Ã¢ÂÂParish nursing is just an extension of that care
Physical, spiritual health
Like Immanuel Lutheran, First United Methodist Church, 946 Vt., also has a new parish nurse.
Jill Ice, a registered nurse and longtime member of the church, will be recognized during worship services Sunday.
The United Methodist Health Ministry Fund has provided the church with a three-year grant of $38,400 for its parish nursing program. The church will gradually take over the financial responsibility for the nursing ministry.
Ice will be working 20 hours a week at the church. She plans on completing a 32-hour course in parish nursing thatÃ¢ÂÂs offered by St. LukeÃ¢ÂÂs Hospital of Kansas City in Kansas City, Mo. Ice also works part time at LMH in pre-op and the recovery room.
Ã¢ÂÂI plan to do some promoting of wellness at the church, and serve as a resource for people who have questions or need help finding medical equipment (like walkers or wheelchairs). IÃ¢ÂÂll do some home visits for new moms and people whoÃ¢ÂÂve just gotten out of the hospital, making sure theyÃ¢ÂÂre comfortable,Ã¢ÂÂ she said.
Ã¢ÂÂI just think itÃ¢ÂÂs really important for members of the congregation to be both spiritually and physically healthy.Ã¢ÂÂ
Pat Mayo came on board this past summer as parish nurse of Heartland Community Church, 619 Vt. Mayo, a registered nurse, was a paramedic for 19 years. He now works part time in the education department at LMH. HeÃ¢ÂÂs taking parish nursing courses at St. LukeÃ¢ÂÂs.
Mayo also works at HeartlandÃ¢ÂÂs free medical clinic several times each week.
Ã¢ÂÂI guess I see myself as an extra resource when people are hurting, physically or emotionally, by drawing on some of my medical background as an R.N. One of the things I can do as a parish nurse is pray with people, too,Ã¢ÂÂ he said.