Parish nurses are becoming a fixture in American congregations, serving members medical and spiritual needs, according to Policy Review magazine (September/October).
Nurses providing medical care in congregations emerged under Lutheran auspices in the mid-1980s, and since then the number of such practitioners has swelled to more than 3,000. Most parish nurses do not provide hands-on “invasive” treatments, and instead focus on preventative care (such as offering blood pressure tests after church services). They also refer parishioners with medical crises to physicians in the parish who might volunteer their medical services.
Many such nurses see themselves as involved in a “wellness ministry” that brings a pastoral and spiritual dimension to the treatment of members, writes Kristine Napier. Parish-nurse initiatives follow diverse models. Some congregations hire their own nurses while other nurses are sponsored through a foundation or non-profit arm of a hospital network.
One such network is the Parish Nurse Program at Trinity Regional Healthy System in Moline Illinois, which serves both rural and urban congregations.
(Policy Review, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002)