I’m really excited about a new ministry opportunity before us. Christ Lutheran will soon be adding a Parish Nursing Program. Mary Garrelts, a recently retired R.N., has been training, studying, and even taking tests to be certified as a Parish Nurse for Christ Lutheran Church. For many this may be a new concept so let me explain.
For starters, this will not cost the church any money. Mary is serving completely as a volunteer in this capacity. She and I have had several conversations, we have prayed about it, and we feel like this is a wonderful opportunity to match her skills, talents and vocation with the needs of the congregation.
Parish Nursing can take many different forms and it looks a little different in every congregation and setting. But I think it might be helpful to think of a Parish Nurse kind of like a School Nurse but for the congregation. She will be available to folks in the congregation for consultation, questions, education, advocacy, and support. If you’re curious or have a concern about something medical, she will be a good first place to check. Everything she does will be kept confidential and she will be working under the professional guidelines that all nurses must maintain. Some possibilities of how this might benefit the congregation and you personally:
- She will be able to take and track blood pressures on a regular basis.
- She will be available to advise you to go see a doctor and seek further treatment if you have an ache or spot or other kind of problem. She’ll be willing to say, “Yes, you need to go get that looked at right away,” or maybe, “That’s pretty normal for someone your age.”
- She can translate complex diagnoses or treatment plans into lay language and, once you’re outside the doctor’s office, she can help you understand the ramifications of everything.
- She plans to do some hospital and nursing home visits from time to time, and can help you navigate those systems.
- She will also likely do some educational programs to raise awareness or offer prevention methods.
In no way is she a substitute for actually going to the doctor or the emergency room, but her medical knowledge and insight can be of great help to you. In many ways, Mary has already been doing this. She has offered helpful counsel to many of you who have faced cancer or chemotherapy. She’ll just be doing a bit more of this in a slightly more public and available way. She’s a very faithful Christian and feels a call from God to be serving us in this way.
It will be up to us to determine the best ways to utilize this new ministry. I’m excited about the possibilities and I’m thankful for the time, effort, and passion that Mary has already put into this. I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about our Parish Nursing Program in the future as we publicize and educate ourselves about what this means. I encourage you to ask Mary questions and engage her. She also excited to see what God has in store for us together.