Healing through faith and connection

Faith community nurses take care of spiritual and emotional needs

Jeanne Mugge, RN with Frances Jeanne Mugge, RN with her client Frances

Jeanne Mugge, RN, leans in closely to her client Frances as the two women examine a set of documents. They are not reviewing medical records, but family photos. Jeanne is doing what she describes as “holy listening” and it is part of her role as a faith community nurse for Trinity Lutheran Congregation. “It’s my calling to support a member of our congregation physically, spiritually and emotionally,” Jeanne explains.

Faith community nurses are licensed registered nurses who have received training to provide care that is spiritually focused in a faith community. “We do all of the nurse things,” Jeanne clarifies. “We take blood pressure, go over medications and look out for safety issues in the home. But in addition, we take care of people spiritually and emotionally.”

Those tasks go over and above monitoring vital signs. “Nurses like Jeanne support the people and the ministry in any way they can,” explains Ann Ellison, Fairview’s director of community health. Faith community nurses have been working with Fairview for more than 10 years. In that time, Ann has seen the nurses fill their roles in a variety of creative ways.

“These nurses are serving their communities beyond the walls of the congregation,” she says. The Faith Community Nurse program is partially funded by generous donations from the community and Fairview employees—those dollars provide support for the program, as well as additional grant dollars the nurses can use to support health initiatives for their communities.

The communities that the nurses serve have changed over time. Initially, Fairview supported only Lutheran faith community nurses in Minneapolis congregations. Today, we help support nurses at small urban parishes as well as suburban churches with congregations of thousands. “Our communities are changing and becoming more diverse,” Ann says. “And we know that churches continue to play a large role in people’s lives. It’s a place of trust, community gathering and connection.”

Faith community nurses are an integral part of that connection and trust. Nurses like Jeanne understand the needs people are facing, and work to educate others on how stress and struggle can lead to other physical problems. That’s why she takes her time during her visit with Frances. “It’s really a privilege to listen to people and hear their stories. I can just be with them as long as they need.”

Frances feels the same way. “I love it. She brings me information and takes me for a walk. I really miss her in between our visits,” she says.

Providing funding for faith community nurses is just one example of the impact of donations to Fairview Foundation by community members and Fairview employees. During 2017, nearly 4,000 employees made gifts—big and small—and raised over $1 million for patients and families in need. “Our employees' commitment to our patients extends beyond their day-to-day work,” says Janet Stacey, president of Fairview Foundation. “Employee donations help Fairview advance patient experience, implement innovative solutions and improve health. We are grateful for employees—and all donors—whose generous giving makes a difference for Frances and all those we serve.”

Support these invaluable connections by visiting fairview.org/giving.

Related Articles