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Health Prog. 2007 Jan-Feb;88(1):44-7, 69.

Parish nursing and hospitals.

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St. Joseph's Health Care, London, Ontario.


Parish nursing is an emerging area of specialized professional nursing practice that focuses on health maintenance and health promotion for parishioners and the community. Health care occurs across a continuum along which hospitals provide a key function. There is a role for hospitals in relation to parish nursing and faith-based health care organizations have a greater obligation than secular ones to partner with parish nursing programs. Faith-based health care facilities, like secular ones, are institutions that bring health care professionals together to apply their knowledge, judgment, and skills to provide care for those in need of such services. But faith-based facilities differ from others in sharing a holistic perspective of health intended to benefit the individual and society, particularly those who are marginalized. This obligation to serve enables God's work because caring for those in need is essential for a just and beneficent society. It seems reasonable to assume that partnering with parish nurse programs is a fitting role for faith-based hospitals. In such circumstances, the facility may choose to introduce the parish nurse concept to the community by hosting a town hall meeting or a workshop with community partners. The facility may also fund parish nursing exhibitions at community events and conferences. The notion of "partnering with," although it carries no theological implications, is in the health care context somewhat akin to the Catholic notion of "sponsorship." The church's sponsorship of health care facilities should be seen as a ministry in itself, and such an approach would "shift the focus from preservation to enhancement, from being a guardian to being a creator, from a sense of diminishment to one of empowerment." Faith-based health care organizations have a responsibility to focus on holistic health for both the individual and society at large, particularly the health of people who are marginalized. It is not only logical that faith-based health care organizations should partner with parish nursing programs--it is imperative that they do so.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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