Wellstar Congregational Health Network
Serving as a bridge between our healthcare system and faith communities, offering help with lifestyle changes, personal habits, attitudes, faith and well-being. Coordinated by a registered nurse with specialized experience, our program assists congregations of all faiths to develop a volunteer health program at no cost to participating congregations.
Bridging Wellstar and Faith Communities
We depend on our congregational nurses to bridge our healthcare system with faith communities. A congregational nurse is a registered nurse who is committed to use her gifts and talents to serve the members of the congregation and the community to promote wholeness of mind, body and spirit. Our congregational nurses are:
- Skilled professionals with special knowledge and skills
- Screeners for existing or potential health problems
- Advocates for patients
- Coordinators of support group leaders and volunteers
- Educators and health advisors
- Bridges to other community resources and services
The contemporary concept of congregational nursing grew out of the work of the Rev. Dr. Granger Westberg, who served over 45 years as a clergyman and professor in medical schools and hospitals.
Congregational nursing, also known as parish nursing or faith community nursing, is recognized as a specialty practice of nursing by the American Nurses Association.
The congregational nurse understands health to be a dynamic process that embodies the spiritual, physical, psychological and social dimensions. Congregations are viewed as communities of health and healing. The congregational nurse focuses on the whole person to emphasize wellness through health promotion and disease prevention activities.
The Wellstar congregational nurse can have several roles. The primarily focus is to integrate faith and health within the congregation. The congregational nurse helps the faith community re-identify, re-interpret, re-discover and re-claim its historic role in health and wholeness in the following roles.
As a health educator, the congregational nurse seeks to raise the health awareness of the congregation and to foster an understanding of the relationship between lifestyle, personal habits, attitudes, faith and well-being.
This can be accomplished through the following activities:
- Blood pressure screenings
- Newsletter articles
- Educational materials
- Bulletin boards
- Classes and seminars
- Support groups
By recruiting members of the congregation, the congregational nurse coordinates a team of volunteers to advocate for health ministry and to assist with programs and activities.
While not replacing a primary health provider, the congregational nurse is available to discuss personal health problems and to recommend medical intervention when necessary. An individual may take comfort knowing a congregational nurse is a person of faith who can listen and pray, as well as understand the medical aspects of the situation.
Referral Source and Liaison with Community Resources
The congregational nurse draws on health-related resources from families, the congregation and the community. The Wellstar congregational nurse serves as a community liaison and referral resource.
Wellstar congregational nurses meet regularly for education, fellowship and sharing of ideas. Programs are presented that would also be available for the nurses to use at their places of worship.