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Imagine a young athlete with a leg injury. She goes to the hospital for treatment and leaves with a cast meant to heal her broken bone. Has she been fully treated? According to Registered Nurse Jane Cheyne, only partly.
Cheyne points out the high chance this young athlete might suffer from anger or depression after her athletic career is temporarily, or even permanently, halted.
“In a hospital, you basically care for a person’s physical health,” she explained. “But a person has other needs that compose overall health – emotional and spiritual ones.”
That is where Cheyne’s work as Faith Community Nurse Coordinator for Parish Nursing on the Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan Health Care Leadership Team comes into play. Cheyne (who represents Ascension SE Michigan as Coordinator of Community Health) and others like her help to coordinate the Faith Community Nursing Program (or Parish Nurse Programs, as they are called) in the Detroit Archdiocese.
“Parish Nurses realize the mind/body/spirit aspect of medical care,” said Cheyne. “They treat the whole person.”
About one-third of the parishes in the Archdiocese of Detroit have a Parish Nurse Program. Some Parish Nurses are retired registered nurses, but to participate in the program, Parish Nurses must maintain their license to practice.
With a focus on promoting healthy lifestyles and disease prevention, a Parish Nurse performs services like:
• Monthly blood pressure screenings
• Making referrals to community agencies/health resources
• Writing articles on health-related topics for the parish bulletin
• Making pastoral visits to homebound and hospitalized persons
• Assisting at parish or vicariate healing services and Masses offering the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick
• Organizing health promotion events such as:
-diabetes education classes
-parenting education programs
A Parish Nurse not only needs to have an up-to-date license to practice, but they generally need three to five years of registered nursing experience. Then they need to complete the parish nurse preparation course developed by the International Parish Nurse Resource Center. The course offers 36 hours of continuing education credits.