“I didn’t know how valuable the Parish Nurse Program was until my brother Leroy started getting sick,” said Jim de Boom, Executive Director of the Newport Mesa Irvine Interfaith Council. “The Parish Nurse from his Methodist church in Minnesota visited Leroy in the hospital. She sat with him, encouraged other church members to visit and she sometimes brought in their minister to pray with him. He felt really connected with the church and with God and it really brought him comfort and it brought me comfort even though we were 1800 miles apart. The Parish Nurse called me and kept me informed of how he was progressing and what his options were.”
“The Parish Nurse Program isn’t new at Hoag Hospital, but it’s mostly been the Christian congregations who’ve been involved,” de Boom continued. “The newness is getting the Muslims, Jews, Baha’is, Buddhists and everyone else involved. It’s important for all faiths to learn about the program and to learn the action steps to get it implemented in their faith communities. For instance, a patient in the hospital might want to be visited by someone who speaks Arabic or who has the same background or beliefs.”
Thirty-eight people representing 20 different congregations and faith communities attended the monthly meeting of the Newport Mesa Interfaith Council recently at Hoag Hospital. They came to learn more about Hoag’s Health Ministries and Faith Community Nursing Program whose mission statement is “to provide quality support to the Faith Community Nurse in empowering individuals in their journey towards a holistic, health affirming balance of mind, body and spirit.”
“This is certainly a ministry that is a wonderful thing to be able to do for your faith community,” explained Susan Johnson, R.N., M.P.H. Manager of Hoag Community Programs. “Faith Community Nursing is a recognized specialty of the American Nurses Association and is open to all faith communities. It can fit the unique personal faith and cultural needs of each congregation and the nurse can be called the Parish Nurse or the Congregational Nurse. Those in the Muslim faith tend to refer to theirs as the Crescent Nurse; it’s up to each one.”
Using a helpful Power Point presentation, Johnson explained that the Faith Community Nursing Program was established at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in 1987 with the purpose of supporting the mental, physical and spiritual health needs of those being served.
Each Faith Community Nurse (FCN) develops educational programs and practices that fit the unique needs of their congregation.
As part of the program, RNs are recruited from their church membership. They are both retired and full-time working nurses, and either volunteer or are paid for their role at their place of worship. Johnson said nurses often develop a team from within their church or synagogue. The Hoag Health Ministries Program provides the leadership, expertise, educational resources and networking support to the FCN.
Johnson explained that some of the benefits of the FCN include prayer and emotional support, a knowledgeable heath advocate, developing support groups, providing free flu vaccines, blood pressure screening, CPR and Automated External Defibrillator training, and sharing Hoag and community resources for each congregation.
“There are endless options,” she said. “Faith Community Nurses can get whatever programmatic support they need from Hoag and what they give to their congregations is amazing. They can make such an important difference.”
For further information about the program, go to hoag.org/Why-HOAG/Pages/Hoag-Programs/Health-Ministries.aspx
The event was part of the monthly meetings of the Newport Mesa Irvine Interfaith Council (nmiinterfaith.org).
Cindy can be reached at [email protected]