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Why hospitals support Parish Nursing--part 2.

In the last issue of Parish Nurse Perspectives we discussed why hospitals support parish nursing. This struck a chord with many who are working in hospital-based parish nurse outreach programs.

The article below was written by Lori Anderson, RN, Manager of the HealthEast Parish Nurse Network (HEPNN), part of HealthEast Care System based in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Faith Based Hospital System Supports East Metro Parish Nurse Network

HealthEast Care System in St. Paul, MN celebrates its 20th anniversary this fall as a faith-based organization. Formed in the mid-1980's when four hospitals of Baptist, Catholic and Lutheran ownership merged, leadership is committed to maintaining the founding Judeo- Christian values across the organization. One example of this commitment is evidenced by our strong Spiritual Care Department which provides forty chaplains in our hospitals, home care, hospice and Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) programs.

Eleven years ago, HealthEast Spiritual Care supported a pilot project funded by the HealthEast Foundation which brought a parish nurse and a local Catholic parish together through financial and program support. By 1999, the pilot project found ongoing funding and a home base through the HealthEast Spiritual Care Department and added a Baptist congregation. The HealthEast Parish Nurse Network (HEPNN) was born and new churches expanded the Network each year.

HEPNN has developed in a number of ways over the years, for example, recognizing the need to include both paid and unpaid parish nurses, HEPNN expanded to include longtime HealthEast RN's who chose to practice parish nursing in their home congregations on a limited basis. Whether paid or unpaid, all HealthEast Parish Nurses receive the same training, support, resources and mentoring in their roles.

Parish Nurses in HEPNN must take an Extended Unit of Clinical Pastoral Education, offered by the Spiritual Care Department. This six month graduate level course offers skill development in pastoral care; a missing piece for many parish nurses who come to the role with a solid nursing background, but limited exposure to the pastoral role that makes parish nursing a ministry. Parish Nurses use their parish as their clinical site.

A Women's Care Wellness Program, Diabetes Resource Center, CPR Training Center and a Parkinson's Center are just a few of the HealthEast resources available to parish nurses. Monthly networking meetings with an educational component, a resource library and tools for program development and ministry are included. The Parish Nurse Network Manager serves as a liaison between HealthEast, the Parish Nurses, the churches, and community for the benefit of all.

For the past five years, HEPNN Parish Nurses have had access to alternative therapies through Woodwinds Hospital in Woodbury, MN, the newest hospital in the HealthEast Care System. Unique in its mission to blend western medicine with alternative treatments in a healing environment, this site embodies the holistic care model championed by parish nurses. The Woodwinds Spiritual Care department hosts an annual faith and health seminar planned with input from HEPNN nurses and offered to 120 community clergy and parish nurses each spring.

In March of 2006, the HEPNN completed a new one year pilot project to evaluate the role of a Parish Nurse in a faith- based assisted and independent living facility in St. Paul, MN. The parish nurse in this role used the title "Pastoral Nurse." The pilot examined the similarities and differences in the parish nurse in a residential setting vs. a parish setting. The pilot was approved as a position by the facility and will continue. Additional settings for the pastoral nurse role are being considered. Community outreach partnerships with existing city programs and services are in the planning stages.

Through the years, the HEPNN worked with over twenty churches in the East Metro area of St. Paul with the potential of reaching over 25,000 parishioners with faith based health and healing through its parish nurses. The faith community provides a trusted setting where parishioners can learn about faith, health and related issues from a Parish Nurse whom they come to know as a person present with them as a spiritual companion for life's journey in times of both wellness and illness and crisis and celebration across their lifespan.

For more information about HEPNN. contact Lori Anderson at or by phone at 651-232-5521.
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Article Details
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Publication:Parish Nurse Perspectives
Geographic Code:1U4MN
Date:Sep 22, 2006
Previous Article:World Forum for Parish Nursing.
Next Article:Parish Nursing outcome: lives intertwined.

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