Faith community nursing is a subset of regular nursing. The nurses are not clergy members and don't diagnose or treat illnesses or dispense medication. Terry Casey, a certified family nurse practitioner and Faith Community nurse, is working with the Church at Cedar Creek to establish its program.
"This is a concept that has been around since 1985. It's been established the longest in the midwest. In some of the larger cities like St. Louis, hospitals assign paid nurses full time to a faith community," said Ms. Casey, "but in most cases they are volunteers who are lead as a calling to promote health, welfare and fitness."
Pastor Calico agreed that the programs were more rooted in large cities, but added that the need for this kind of service is as important in rural areas. His father, Dr. Forrest Calico was honored last year as a Rural Hero by the First National Rural Assembly for his life's work strengthening rural communities by improving their health care. Pastor Calico said that one of the advantages that city neighborhood churches and rural churches share is that "the faith community members tend to have a long-term association" and that is key to this kind of program because it focuses on education and prevention of illness instead of treatment.
Some of the health activities the Church at Cedar Creeks has scheduled this year are blood pressure screening, health screening, and last Wednesday, a CPR course. Congregation members gathered at the church's temporary home at the Lincoln County Baptist Center for a hands-on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) class given by Terry Casey. Ms. Casey started by explaining that recent changes in the technique have greatly increased the number of chest compressions a victim receives and a deemphasis on rescue breathing. The focus is keep blood flowing to both the brain and the heart. Changes in the technique has saved a lot of lives, "before now, as an emergency room nurse, I didn't expect a lot of people to survive CPR."
Soon, the whole group found itself in front of CPR mannequins discovering the difficulty of giving 30 chest compressions in under 20 seconds. With Ms. Casey coaching, the tired group mastered the technique and left better prepared to perform "family and friends CPR."