November 22, 2010
by Caleb Heeringa, for the Bellingham Herald
What is it? The parish nurse program at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center pairs nurses and health care professionals with local religious congregations.
What do the nurses do? Their work runs the gamut, from educating church members on health issues, to giving free blood pressure checks, to checking up on church members following surgery or illness. Parish nurses - often called faith community nurses - also guide patients through the red tape of health care and give free advice on health issues before they become chronic issues.
"Faith community nurses are trained to help the elderly navigate through the health care maze," says the Rev. Dick Cathell, administrator of the program in Whatcom County. "They're able to add that personal touch and work one-on-one with patients."