Leu Killion spent almost 40 years working as a nurse and educator for Fairview Health Services, but she wasn’t quite ready to hang up her blood pressure cuff. She’s now part of the Faith Community Nursing program, working twenty hours a week at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, across the street from Fairview Ridges Hospital.
She is part of the spiritual care team, which works to help the mind, body and spirit of congregants and the community.
“Sometimes people turn to their church first when facing a new or challenging situation,” she explains, “They may reach out to the pastor or faith community nurse. I listen to concerns in person or phone, and help process issues that may come up. I look for local resources to match the needs of the person.”
Fairview was one of the first systems in the nation to support a faith community nursing program, starting in 1987. The program has changed over the years, and was rekindled in 2006 as a celebration of Fairview’s 100th anniversary. Fairview Foundation provides grants to Fairview Association churches that want to start a faith community nursing program.
Faith community nurses, also called Faith Community Nurses, are licensed, registered nurses who have completed course work in the Foundations of Faith Community Nursing. The role of the faith community nurse varies within congregations but they include the following: integrator of faith and health; health educator, health counselor, referral advisor, health advocate, developer of support groups and coordinator of volunteers.
Fairview Faith Community Nurses can conduct health screenings such as blood pressure checks, organize health fairs, provide educational presentations on health issues and respond to identified needs.
Some, like Leu, help community members find the resources they need to improve their physical, spiritual or mental health. One of her responsibilities is coordinating support groups, which help people dealing with Parkinson’s, loss, depression, caregiving responsibilities and other challenging situations.
Faith community nurses have also partnered with Fairview to host Mental Health First Aid classes and the Fairview sponsored MINI flu shot clinics. Many nurses have been trained as Honoring Choices facilitators and helped parishioners complete an advance care directive.
“As a faith community nurse, I do not provide hands-on care, but I listen to physical, spiritual or psychological concerns. I may help someone with Honoring Choices or advance care planning, or understanding medical instructions,” says Leu, “The broad nature of this role allows me to focus attention on the whole person, which is why I truly enjoy the work I do as a faith community nurse.”
For more information about faith community nursing at Fairview, contact Pat Peterson, Faith Community Outreach Manager at 612-706-4562 or firstname.lastname@example.org.