Caring For Body, Mind And Spirit

  • Article by: NANCY GIGUERE , Star Tribune Sales and Marketing
  • Updated: March 10, 2010 - 9:54 AM

Congregational nurses provide holistic care for members of faith communities.

All too often, a visit with a doctor or other healthcare provider is a rushed affair. But when Hadassah Zohara meets with people, the visit is unhurried. "I have time to sit and listen to their stories," says Zohara, a congregational nurse with Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park.

Presence And Prayer

Congregational nurses, also known as faith community or parish nurses, offer presence and prayer during times of stress, change, transition and challenge. Some congregational nurses are volunteers, but an increasing number are supported by their faith community, often with help from local healthcare and social service organizations.

Zohara, for example, is an employee of Park Nicollet Health Services. Beth El's program has also received funding from the Park Nicollet Foundation and Jewish Family and Children's Service of Minneapolis. The program focuses on visits to Beth El members who need support, education, nursing assessment and connection to their congregation. Zohara meets with them at the synagogue, at home or in hospitals, nursing homes and assisted-living faculties.

A Sense Of Inclusion

During her visits, she provides support for members' physical, mental and spiritual needs by listening, praying and fostering a sense of inclusion. For individuals who are homebound, Zohara is a direct link to the synagogue.

She also refers members to appropriate community services, assists with admissions and discharges from hospitals or nursing homes, attends care conferences, and connects members with clergy and Yad V'lev, Beth El's volunteer group.

A Growing Field

Congregational nurses must hold a current RN license, have at least two years experience and complete a 36-hour specialty nursing course.

"This is a growing field," Zohara says. "Congregational nurses are now found in many spiritual communities, including churches, synagogues and mosques."

For more information, visit the website of the Faith Community Nurse Network of the Greater Twin Cities at www.fcnntc.org.

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