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Faith Community Nurses Support Holistic Health

From Barbara Kilbride, Lee Health’s Faith Community Nurse Program Manager

Faith community nursing is a specialized and special practice of professional nursing that integrates faith and health and bridges the disciplines of nursing and ministry.

At Lee Health, we have 24 faith community nurses who cover 21 local churches as part of our Faith Community Nurse Program. These nurses serve as liaisons between the clergy and their congregations, our health system, physicians and other community agencies and resources. In their role, faith community nurses can function as health counselors, educators and advocates, resource agents, volunteer coordinators and support group developers.

The Faith Community Nurse Program has a significant impact on our community and health system, as the nurses work to help reduce hospital readmissions, lower health care costs and improve patient safety and outcomes. To aid in these efforts, the faith community nurses focus on high-risk diagnoses, like congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes management/teaching and reducing falls in the home.

The nurses do not provide hands-on care. Instead, they build relationships with church members and help connect them to the services, programs, information and support they need to improve their health and quality of life.

In just seven months – from October 2021 through April 2022, our faith community nurses tracked 2,355 hours during which they conducted outreach and coordinated activities and programs. Our nurses had 1,585 occasions of 15 minutes or more one-on-one time with patients. They wrote 46 educational articles and distributed 13,685 pieces of educational material, 2,230 food pantry items and 2,560 lunch programs. During these months, our nurses also made 290 referrals to a variety of Lee Health, community and church resources.

This year, after not hosting the conference because of the pandemic, Lee Health is again bringing back the “Foundations of Faith Community Nursing” course in person. This evidence-based course, developed by the Westberg Institute of Faith Community Nursing, fully prepares nurses to take on this new responsibility. Nurses do not have to work at Lee Health; community registered nurses can take the course for spiritual development or if they are affiliated with a church that supports their ministry. Following completion of the course, nurses are eligible to join the Lee Health FCN program. Lee Health is an approved provider for Continuing Nursing Education by the Florida Board of Nursing and the program counts as 36 contact hours accredited through the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

The Foundations course is set for Aug. 5-7 and 12-14. Please call (239) 343-5182 for more information.