Why Do We Pay for Coffee and Doughnuts on Sunday?

Our coffee and donut money goes to Southwestern Oklahoma Presbyterian (SWOPP) Parish Nurse Program which has been in existence since the summer of 2005. as an extension of the Parish Nurse Program at First Presbyterian Church, Duncan OK.

Parish Nursing is a program which focuses on health promotion and disease prevention. PC(USA) has been a leader in brining the program to its congregations. The 20th General Assembly created the “Life Abundant” policy which called upon churches to encourage and promote health and wholeness. The National Health Ministries of PC(USA) provided excellent documents for establishing programs, and while the office has since closed, parish nurses continue to function in many congregations.

In Oklahoma, the organization is called Faith Community Nurses of Oklahoma. The American Nurses’ Association has published “Faith Community Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice” which states “Faith community nursing is the specialized practice of  professional nursing that focuses on the intentional care of the spirit as part of the process of promoting wholistic health and preventing or minimizing illness in a faith community.”

The nurse is a licensed professional nurse. The implication is that the nurse functions independently and therefore can only be licensed by the Oklahoma Board of Nursing as a registered professional nurse. In addition, the PC(USA) requires that the nurse has both a professional nursing license as well as malpractice/liability insurance.

This practice reclaims the Biblical understanding of the dynamic integration of body, spirit, mind, emotions, and social situations. The call is to walk with people through the transitions of life, help people grow spiritually and find a language of hope in the midst of these transitions. As a result, the parameters are very clear for both the nurse as well as the congregation.

How does the nurse accomplish the task of walking with the congregation through these transitions? This is accomplished through health education, personal health counseling, advocacy, referral to a variety of resources, facilitation of pastoral care and comfort, and facilitator of support groups. The PC(USA) church does not permit invasive procedures. The nurse does not supplant home health care services but can educate the family about the needs of their loved one.

So what does the parish nurse do for her practice in the SWOPP? Each week the parish nurse provides a “parish nurse corner” which is published in the worship bulletin. It is a succinct paragraph discussing a health subject that may be in the news. Since February is Heart Month, the subject matter is focused there. In April the subject could be preparation for difficult weather. In May 2017, the nurse is writing about Stroke and Hypertension. In September it will be about getting flu and pneumonia shots. In October it will be about breast cancer.

Each month the nurse visits the Nutrition Site in Grandfield. There she does blood pressure  screening and monitors medication administration. Churches in Temple and Walters are visited. Information for that month is posted and she is available for individual consultations as requested. On the 5th Sunday, the nurse worships with the congregants, shares in their communion followed by a potluck lunch, and provides some educational activity appropriate for that time. They have fun while they learn.

So how are our funds used by the SWOPP? The nurse does not receive any pay for the service  she provides. The Parish reimburses her for mileage, tolls, and malpractice insurance premiums. She is not paid for continuing education, only mileage. Our coffee money is  serving the Parish well and is very much appreciated!

If you have any questions for our Parish Nurse, please contact the church office.