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May 15, 1998     The Message
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May 15, 1998

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8 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana ' !ii0000iiii!:00i!!ii i i l i, i i' i i . I When parishes become health care By STAN KONIECZNY Catholic News Service It all started long ago on Solomon's Porch. Two apostles, Peter and John, went to the temple to pray. On Solomon's Porch, they met a lame beggar who asked for some loose change. His request net- ted quite a change! Peter healed him in Christ's name. In this scene, recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, Peter continued the healing ministry of Jesus. Today Catholic parishes are taking their cue from that incident on Solomon's Porch and ate playing a more active role in promoting the healing ministry of Jesus among parishioners and neighbors. In places such as the Diocese of Belleville, I11., communities are beginning to provide some 15asic health care and health education for parishioners. The Diocese of Belleville has a Coali- tion for the Healing Ministry that brings Bishop Wilton D. Gregory of Belleville together with the administrators of southern Illinois Catholic health care facilities, social service agencies and rep- resentatives of the diocese's regions to discuss health care concerns. Originally the group included only health care administrators and the bish- op. It was expanded to reflect the trend to take health care beyond the walls of acute-care facilities. The coalition's premier project was to host a 1996 clergy study day. "The pur- pose of the clergy day was to help famil- iarize our priests with the changing cli- mate of health care in the United States. Part of that changing atmosphere is the need to have local parish cormnunifies be more sensitive and informed about ways that they can access better health care. Parishes can also provide simple, but vital, services locally that will keep healthy people health)6" explained Bish- op Gregory. With all the changes today in the health care field, "pastors can provide a helpful service by knowing as much as possible A number of parishes today have started nurse ministries which offer blood pressure screenings and basic health about the challenges their parishioners face," Bishop Gregory added. A number of southern Illinois church- es are extending Jesus' healing ministry through their own parishes. The Wellness Commission at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Herrin, Ill., was established in response to trends such as early hospital discharges. "We try to help people keep in contact with their faith community when they are ill as well as to meet some of their health care needs," explained Sister Clara Temes, a member of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ who is a registered nurse. care and health education for p Konieczny in his article on this -- CNS The Wellness Commission includes six nurses, one social worker and a parish council representative. It provides monthly blood pressure screenings and monthly parish bulletin inserts that offer health care information for parishioners. The group also sponsors an annual Parish Health Fair in cooperation with Southern Illinois Healthcare, a regional health system serving the Herrin area. This kind of collaboration between faith communities and health care providers is a key to maximizing efficiency and minimizing duplication of services in any health care outreach program, according cared for, i, body andsoul ...... By JUDY ESWAY Catholic News Service Dr. Jim Miller, a general practitioner, had worked hard all his life and looked forward to retirement. It would be hard to leave his patients; he'd grown close to them. Yet he and his wife, Herta, decided it was time to fulfill their dream of mov- ing to Arizona to enjoy their golden year Soon after their move, the good doctor came down with Parkinson's disease and colon cancer. Away from family and friends, Herta was stunned.- "I was shocked and sad," she said. "I felt there was no tomorrow. I said to my husband, 'I'm so afraid. I don't know what we'll do.' But Jim told me not to worry. He said, "['ve helped so many people; I know God will help us."' Herta brought her concerns to their new parisK Soon volunteers from the parish's ministry to the sick were at their door. Women and men took turns visit- ing and providing respite care for Herta. They even4Jcl the doctor when he could no longer feed himself. "These people truly have been a gift from God," Herta said. "To know that here are people who are dependable, people you can trust in your home, it means everything." Herta naturally gravitated to the church for help. Most parishes now have organized groups of dedicated volun- teers eager to serve the sick. Another promising trend is the hiring of registered nurses for parish staffs. I asked Pat Pecqueux, a registered nurse, about her duties at St. "limothy's Catholic Community. in Mesa, Ariz. "q'he role of a parish nurse is to focus on health education and health promotion. We offer blood pressure scorning, flu immu- nizations and even a Scripture-based weight loss program. The spiritual compo- nent is always present. For example, in our parish walking program the group begins and ends with prayer," she explained. Parish nurses work closely with the other volunteers in the parish's ministry to the sick. Pat noted, "Because of recent cuts in social programs and changes in health care, the need is enormous. People are moving out of the hospital a lot soon- er and they need a little help, a safety net." When asked how she likes her job, she answered, "I feel very blessed to be able to serve and live out my faith in this work. I love nursing, and I love my Catholic faith. The rewards are so great.". She told me of a woman she referred to a doctor for treatment of high blood pres- sure. Later, the grateful woman told her pastor she was greatly touched that her church would care that much about her. ' i' ):/i iQ.i to Sister Temes.  The Health everyone," she usually displays, vi ranging from fives for health care. for children features safety, The Health Fair alsO by various parish. Thus, as health they parish. See Esway is Third serves sick program; =