- Associated Press - Friday, January 20, 2017

DANVILLE, Ill. (AP) - As a registered nurse, Jeannie Cisney is passionate about helping people - physically, emotionally and mentally. In her role as a parish nurse, she can address a person’s spiritual side, as well.

“In a church congregation, you can say, ‘let me pray for you,’” she said. A person might not be physically well, but he’ll handle it better if he has hope and support.

Cisney, a member of Second Church of Christ, is one of 24 parish nurses - also known as faith community nurses - in Vermilion County.

Faith community nursing is a specialized practice that emphasizes disease prevention and health promotion. Nurses must receive training, which is offered once a year in this area, and which is coming up next month.

Cisney of Danville, who works in the Carle Hospital cardiovascular ICU, is excited about the year ahead at Second Church of Christ. With help from Julie Fruhling, a trained parish nurse, and several congregation members, she has a special event lined up every quarter.

Cisney said stepped into her parish nurse role by giving a survey asking people about their health concerns. Of the 1,200 people who attend Second Church, 300 surveys were returned, she said.

She also recruited people to help, ending up with about 30 people assigned to committees. People were put into groups based on their talents and interests.

The committees include: safety, whose members update first-aid kits, for example, and address other safety issues; encouragement, made up of people interested in counseling others; fitness/nutrition, which targets people who said in the surveys that they struggle with weight or who have chronic diseases; and the nursing group, made up of about eight nurses who said they could help out by teaching CPR, for example.

As an example of the encouragement committee’s role, the members will put words of support onto paper and place those on random cars in February.

Sometime soon, the Vial of Life program will be introduced to the congregation. On one of the Sundays, members will be able to get a large vial. They will fill out a form with their personal information, a copy of a living will and other pertinent medical details, and place the vial in the refrigerator.

Emergency medical personnel will see a sticker on the door or window, and go to the refrigerator to retrieve information from the vial.

In the second quarter, the congregation will send messages of support and care packages to college students who are studying for finals.

The third quarter of the year will focus on nutrition, such as having a garden workshop.

Finally, physical and spiritual health will be addressed with a Walk to Bethlehem. People will log their daily steps and say a daily devotional, with the goal of accumulating the number of steps needed to get to Bethlehem by Christmas.

While the activities are confined to Second Church for now, Cisney said, “I envision this ministry going outside the walls of this building.”


Indeed, a faith community nurse program can be tailored to each congregation, said Faith Roberts, director of parish nursing, professional practice and Magnet at Carle. The Community Parish Nurse Program is funded by the Carle Center for Philanthropy.

Roberts began the parish nurse program at Carle 20 years ago.

“It goes beyond the walls of the church,” she said of the program. “It’s how you interpret this in your own faith family.”

For example, in some communities, parish nurse programs at various churches come together to make sure students get their immunizations. Other programs work with social service agencies.

“The emphasis is on how you can serve your faith family,” she said. “How can registered nurses make an impact on the health of a congregation?”

Parish nurses can do a variety of duties, such as blood pressure checks, teaching parents of toddlers about healthy snacks, and helping older people with advance directives.

“A lot of us do one-on-one,” she said, such as explaining a lab report to a church member.

Parish nurses don’t give shots or dispense medicine in a home; instead, the focus is on wellness and making sure people have access to resources.

People who don’t know whether their church has a parish nurse should ask their pastor or contact the parish nurse program at Carle.


Source: (Danville) Commercial-News, https://bit.ly/2jHrIDM


Information from: Commercial-News, https://www.dancomnews.com

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