Healing To Wholeness: Mind, Body & Spirit

When you think of health care, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Maybe your local hospital or perhaps you picture a doctor or nurse. However, at Gwinnett Medical Center providing care to the whole person means much more than that.

The Faith Community Nursing department at GMC redefines what it means to provide complete care for patients and members of the community. By forming partnerships with faith communities to establish and support health ministries, those who need it most are able to gain access to health information, education and resources. This happens through the Faith Community Nursing program and the Faith Community Network program at GMC.

What do Faith Community Nurses do?

While Faith Community Nurses have many responsibilities within the community, their sole focus is to support the mental, physical and spiritual needs of community members. As registered nurses who have received specialized education and training, they are uniquely qualified to provide guidance and support on a wide-range of health-related matters.

This may come in the form of personal health counseling, health education, hospital & home visits, health screenings, referrals to community services, support groups or advocacy. Furthermore, each Faith Community Nurse is able to serve as a connector to additional resources and information as needed.

Navigating Health Care: The Faith Community Network

For most of us, the world of health care can be confusing and overwhelming. Instead of leaving it to individuals to figure out on their own, Mary Cooper, RN, the Faith Community Nurse Navigator for the Faith Community Network at GMC is there to help.

As the Faith Community Nurse Navigator, Mary coordinates with the Faith Community Network, currently 11 faith based organizations throughout Atlanta. This emerging program at GMC is aimed at partnering with faith communities to build a bridge to better health. She works with leaders of each organization to bring awareness of health and wholeness to the faith based organization, as well as a caring transition from hospital to home for Network members.

She also works with individuals that are a part of each organization to become a part of the Faith Community Network. As a member, individuals are added to GMC’s patient database. This allows for Mary to become a part of their care team in the event that they have a hospital visit.

 Mary practices Faith Community Nursing, in the hospital setting, at the patient’s bedside. That may mean sitting and listening to their fears, praying with them, answering their medical questions or anything that is weighing on them, “I have the time to really hear their heart,” says Mary.

Mary’s work doesn’t stop there; Mary is a complement to the patient’s care team. Oftentimes, she is able to coordinate with the patient’s faith based organization to ensure that they receive wrap-around caring services from their faith-based organization once discharged from the hospital. These caring services complement any medical services ordered by the patient’s care team.

These caring services may include financial assistance, meal assistance, emotional and spiritual support, among other things. As Mary emphasizes, “I love how this program helps them heal. It may not always be physical, it’s often spiritual and it can help to make them whole.”

Joining the Faith Community Network

This incredible network is the only one of its kind in the state of Georgia. Currently, there are 11 faith based organizations throughout the GMC service area that are a part of the Faith Community Network and GMC is hoping to continue the program’s growth. An individual that’s a part of these organizations is able to utilize the resources and support of the Faith Community Network. Any faith based organization is invited to partner with GMC; the program is free and voluntary.

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