Mercer RN sees parish nurse health program as ministry

October 22, 2004|HERB BROCK

MACKVILLE - Maureen Young has had an RN behind her name for some time. Now, in a sense, she has a "Rev" in front of it.

Young is a registered nurse. But while she is not an ordained minister, she has turned her nursing profession into a ministry. She has become a pioneer in a special field of nursing aimed at tending to the health needs of religious congregations and the communities where those congregations are located.

Young is one of the area's first parish nurses.

"A few years ago the Kentucky Board of Nursing established parish nursing as a specialty and set up a certification process," said Young, who is practicing the specialty at her home church, Deep Creek Baptist off of Mackville Road. "I am what you might call a generic parish nurse at this time but I will be getting my certification in the near future.

"I definitely see this as a ministry, and I do feel it is the Lord's calling," she said, adding that the program is based on the Christian tenet that the body is God's temple and people should be good stewards of that structure.


Young, who currently does not work, started her own program five months ago, winning approval for the project from the Rev. Hillary Claypool, pastor of the 208-year-old, 150-member rural church, after he had read a program outline she had prepared for him. At present it is an unpaid ministry, but Claypool and the church's board have given Young an office with a computer in the church basement, provided her with ample supplies and allowed her generous use of the church's copy machine.

Her office hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. She also makes hospital and nursing home visits on Wednesdays. During and often after work hours, she has been using her computer, phone, supplies and copy machine trying to generate interest in her program both within her church and throughout the area.

Her role

Young, a Lexington native who is 17-year member of Deep Creek Baptist and the wife of local native William Young, already has cranked out several materials regarding her parish nurse program, including a brochure she is distributing not only to Deep Creek members but also to churches throughout Mercer County and neighboring counties. The brochure, titled "Health ministries in compassionate caring congregations - promoting wellness in body, mind and spirit," outlines her role:

* Health educator - She will put on classes, screenings and conferences that generally show the correlation of health to lifestyle, personal habits, attitudes and faith and specifically will address such issues as stress, grief, nutrition, exercise, family relationships and prevention (cancer, diabetes, heart and smoking).

* Health counselor - She will hold counseling sessions with individuals to discuss physical, mental, emotional and health-related spiritual concerns and care. While she will not providing any nursing care or treatment, she will help advise people on their medicines, pre- and post-operative care programs and other issues involving any care or therapy they may be receiving for physical or mental problems.

* Referral source - She will develop a network of community resources, including medical facilities, clinics, self-help groups and doctors, nurses and other health-care professionals and clergy, and try to plug her clients - for whom she will serve as an "advocate" - into the appropriate resources.

* Facilitator - She will train members of Deep Creek and other churches as volunteers in the parish nurse program, and she also will provide encourage nurses in other congregations to start their own programs and provide assistance to them in their efforts.

* Health ministries coordinator - She will help develop a network or "fellowship" of parish nurses and volunteers and help establish and coordinate programs.

Young already has begun a smoking cessation class and a blood-pressure screening program and established a support group for cancer survivors. She is a cancer survivor herself, having beaten the disease after a mastectomy and follow-up care.

"During one of my BP screenings, I found the blood pressure of one of our ladies here at church was extremely high, and I told her she needed to her doctor immediately," she said. "Her doctor said she was within days of having a stroke and immediately put her on new medicines. She is well and healthy now.

"Our program essentially is in its infancy, but the story of the lady avoiding a stroke because of the screening I did with her not only made me feel good, it also shows the program can be helpful."

Helpful in other churches and communities

Young believes the program can be helpful in other churches in the area and to the Mackville community and neighboring communities. This outreach comes under the title, "People of faith working together for a healthier community.

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