Parish Nursing

Why a Parish Nurse?

Do you ever wonder, "Why does First Congregational Church have Parish Nurses?  What do they do?"  Here are some thoughts to be shared with you.

Health is multidimensional including mind, body and spirit.  A person's state of health in one area impacts health in the other areas.  In other words, if you are to be healthy, you need to pay attention to your whole body.  This is called Holistic Care.  For example, have you ever been ill for an extended time and found yourself feeling sad?  Have you ever experienced the power of prayer to lighten the burden of mental or physical illness?

Have you ever considered that your body is a gift from God?  When we baptize a baby, we thank God for this new life.  This recognizes human life as a gift from God.  One way to say thank you to God is to care for ourselves and each other.  Our church mission states, "To Believe Is To Care, To Care Is To Do."  We can practice holistic caring by caring for the whole person, including mind, body, and spirit, remembering that Jesus moved among the people as a healer.

Traditionally, you may think of a nurse in a hospital or clinic setting.  Many nurses are involved with caring for people who are ill.  However, the discipline of nursing is also very concerned with preventing illness through health promotion and education.  When individuals know how to keep their bodies healthy, they may be able to avoid some illnesses.  Nurses offer care.  Providing information on how to keep your body healthy supports and extends the caring of the church for mid and spirit.

Parish Nurses also have the advantage of being available when and where people are already gathered in daily life.  In many settings, especially in large cities, Parish Nurses set up clinics within church buildings and provide direct health care to inner city parishes where members cannot afford usual health care.

What does a Parish Nurse do?

A Parish Nurse is a resource within the church community.  They focus on ways to promote good physical and mental health to compliment the spiritual work we are all involved in together as a church community.  You are familiar with the monthly columns that Nancy Peterson and Susan Lampe write for In the First Place and that they are available to check your blood pressure the first Sunday of each month.  What else does a Parish Nurse do?  A Parish Nurse can help members of the church as a bridge or "interpreter" to the world of physicians and hospitals and nursing homes.  They can help answer questions about medications and treatments.  If you are wondering about whether a loved one may need nursing home care, they can help you evaluate the situation.  If you are concerned about a child's health, they can assist you.  They can advocate for your wishes and needs related to health care.  They work closely with Pastor Al to determine the best way to be of assistance.  They can connect you with community resources.  They welcome the opportunity to minister among you.


There may come a time when you notice someone having a health problem or someone says to you they arenít feeling well. The Health Ministry Team has established the following guidelines to assist both you and the person in distress.

Help or encourage the person to sit down. If possible, ask the member what they think may be happening.

Seek help from medical professionals in our church. This could be the parish nurse or any other nurse who attends our church. If there is a doctor available, alert the doctor to the situation.

We have a blood pressure cuff and stethoscope in the library closet. It is stored in a black vinyl suitcase on wheels. Retrieve it. Give it to the medical person who is assessing the member.

If the condition is warranted, retrieve the AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) unit (located on the wall in the library) from its case and have it handy.

Be available to assist the medical person for any variety of things (such as calling 911 for them, running to the kitchen to get the member some water if needed, or helping to take some outer clothes off to help cool down).

Notify the pastor(s) of what is happening so they can help with crowd control. The pastor can advise the congregation of what exit to take so they are not in the path of an emergency crew should one be on its way.

Keep in mind that the family of the member may also need some attention. Offer to help them call other family or help them decide how to get to the emergency room. In times of stress, family may need a clearer head to help them.


Privacy is important to most of us, so if you have been instrumental in helping someone in trouble, remember itís not up to you to tell the congregation the details. When the issue that caused the problem has been resolved, the pastor can make an announcement to the congregation.

Probably the most important thing to remember is to STAY CALM. Anyone who is not feeling well needs to have someone calm attending him or her so their condition does not escalate due to anxiety. All of us can assist someone who is having a health issue BUT if you can not help due to your own emotional or physical distress, please quickly alert someone who can assist.

Thankfully, most issues we have had in our church have not been a matter of life or death. Whether the situation is or isnít, everyone should be prepared by knowing what to do when an emergency of sorts occurs.

Hot Links

American Association of Retired People
Mayo Clinic Health Oasis

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This site was last updated 02/09/13