2/28/02 - Body & Soul: Parish Nursing Offers New Alternative - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

2/28/02 - Body & Soul: Parish Nursing Offers New Alternative

Many times when people feel bad, they put off going to the doctor until they're really sick. Some Heartland hospitals want to reach out to those people, with a different kind of nursing called parish nursing. Nurses go to area churches and volunteer their time, trying to help people before they get too sick.

For over 20 years, Teresa Countz has been helping patients in the hospital. Now, she's going to help people outside Missouri Delta Medical Center, with a different form of medical treatment called parish nursing. Missouri Delta's Chaplain Brian Smith says, "That nurse who's a member of the congregation is there and has that working relationship with that parishioner so we can prevent illness that will place them in the hospital."

The main idea behind parish nursing is to attract people who may be afraid to go to the doctor. The idea is to bring nurses to a different setting, like church, so the people may be more willing to talk about how they're feeling. Countz says, "A lot of the elderly, they just won't ask anybody, anything, at anytime. Like in a church situation, they might feel more comfortable asking you things than other people, so we're there for them."

It's an idea that's catching on in Sikeston. Pastor Rick Lasley's church is one of six churches involved in the program. He says around 40 percent of his congregation is elderly. It's that group that Countz says they want to target, and can help, by forming a one-on-one relationship. "We're there for their questions," Countz says. "Whatever they ask, we try to answer and if we don't know the answer, we try to find someone who does."

Other hospitals across the Heartland have parish nursing programs. If you're interested in finding out more, call your local hospital.

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