Putting Patients First — Do You Work With Local Parishes?

November-December 1998

In the July-August issue of Health Progress, we asked you how your organization works with local parishes. Here are your responses. Answer this issue's question and we'll publish your answers.

Four Programs

  • Parish nurse program
  • Health screening and information
  • Work with "Stephen Ministers"
  • Link with Catholic deanery and interfaith associations

Larry Eheen
Director, Mission Integration
Provider Health System
Everett, WA

A Parish-Based Health Ministry
In February of 1996 Caritas Christi established the Office of Parish Based Health Ministry (PBHM) as an outreach of its mission to local communities. PBHM works with parish leadership to identify the health needs (including healing and wellness aspects) of the parish and, together with a health team of parishioners, develop programs that serve those needs. Emphasis is on concrete, self-sustaining approaches that minimize demands on parish staff. In many parishes a parish nurse directs the ministry.

Examples of active health programs include homebound and respite care, support groups, outreach to the physically and mentally disabled, advocacy education as it relates to Medicare and Medicaid, health fairs, new mother workshops, and seminars on topics such as spirituality and health, advanced directives, and domestic violence.

Parish health ministry addresses a genuine need and has experienced rapid growth since it was first established.

Robert Short
Director, Parish Based Health Ministry
Caritas Christi Health Care System
of the Archdiocese of Boston

A Parish Visitor Program

In 1990 the department of pastoral ministry of Santa Rosa Health Care began a training program to identify and train a coordinator and team from each parish who would minister to the parish's sick and/or homebound in their homes or in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.

Thirty-three parishes and 289 individuals have participated in the parish visitor program since it began. In 1994 and 1997 we offered the program in both English and Spanish. The program is modeled after the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) process, using an adult model of education which has an action-reflection method to explore ministerial practice and theological theory. The seven-week program covers such topics as communication skills, wellness, advance directives, and how to organize a homebound ministry team. For the first three years the program was jointly funded by the archdiocese and the pastoral care ministry department. Since 1993 our department has funded the program as part of the overall mission of Santa Rosa's commitment to the needs of the community.

Mary Jo Baker
Chaplain Coordinator
Parish Visitor Program, Home Ministry
Santa Rosa Health Care
San Antonio, TX

Wellness in Neighborhoods

People in Lawrence County are being diagnosed and restored to good health through the Wellness in Neighborhoods program offered at more than 15 area churches and community organizations. The outreach program is sponsored by St. Francis Hospital of New Castle, part of the Pittsburgh-based St. Francis Health System.

Designed to serve the basic healthcare needs of area residents, the sites provide a comfortable and nonthreatening atmosphere where people can discuss their health concerns and receive blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar testing, just to name a few. There is personal time to encourage questions about medications and their side effects and to stress the importance of more particular screenings such as mammography and immunizations for children.

Thousands of Lawrence County families have been served by the program. Through this service, they are learning the value of becoming responsible for their own health and wellness.

Cheryl Bundza
Media Specialist
St. Francis Hospital of New Castle
New Castle, PA


What does your organization do to help patients and their families feel "at home" and comfortable during their hospital experience?



To return by mail, send the information to:
Judy Cassidy, Editor, Editor, Health Progress, Catholic Health Association, 4455 Woodson Rd., St. Louis, MO 63134-3797


Copyright © 1998 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

Putting Patients First - Do You Work With Local Parishes

Copyright © 1998 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.