Parish nurses: Making a difference in families’ lives
Jim is a 64-year-old retired physicist, divorced with children and grandchildren in the Twin Cites and Michigan. He is a brilliant man who lacks a few of what he calls the "social graces." His unmarried sister is 57, retired and lives in California. His mother, Maria, is 90 years old and frail.
Jim lives in his mother's home, provides all of her care and says his mother is his current project. As a faith community nurse, I have been visiting them monthly for two years now. I read scripture, pray and sing with Maria. Jim and I have long talks about available resources, advanced directives and funeral home choices. Mostly I encourage him in his care giving.
Jim routinely sends e-mails updates to his family. Here's the last one he sent.
I want to update you on Mom/Gram's condition. As of today, she is again in hospice care (in the home). The hospice nurse, Nancy, checked her over today and told me she was glad I had called her to come to the house … When Mom/Gram's parish nurse suggested it was time to call the hospice back, I did it. (A bed is coming tomorrow and a home health nurse will come on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
to give her a bath, etc.)
Mom/Grams has undergone noticeable changes, even during this last week. For the past three weeks I have moved her about the house in the wheelchair from the church as she cannot really walk or even stand on her own.
Her circulation is extremely poor, so she has ulcers developing on her feet, especially on her toes. Nancy examined her feet and believes that the infection has been creeping into her blood stream. When I showed her last week's glucose numbers she said, "I think she's dying."
So, I have no positive news to tell you. I'll keep in touch.
I visited Maria the day after I received this e-mail. She was in and out of consciousness and mostly non-responsive. I sang Jesus Loves Me. As I read the Twenty-third Psalm, she recited the first three verses with me and then lost consciousness again. I gently laid her down, Jim covered her up and we went into the kitchen to talk.
Those three verses were the last words Jim heard her say. Three days later he called to say she was gone. I went over to the house with the pastor. We said a prayer before the funeral home representative came. The next day I went to the airport to pick up Jim's sister. We met at the funeral home for a brief service that
same day day. The memorial service was in April.
HealthEast faith community nurses make a difference in the lives of people. A situation such as this is just one example of the support, coordination and resources provided to participating faith community members by the HealthEast Faith Community Nurse Network.
— Written by Lee Cummins, HealthEast Faith Community Nurse
City Passport success stories
The following stories are experiences from Deb Gish, HealthEast Faith Community Nurse at HealthEast City Passport.
Bob came in to City Passport for a blood pressure check and told Deb that he suffers from depression. He told her that City Passport means so much to him because he feels safe here. Bob came in one day very upset and told Deb that his depression medication was stolen out of his backpack. He was not sure what to do and he tried to contact the doctor, but he did not have a phone number for the physician to call him back. Deb contacted the clinic and they agreed to renew the medication for him. He was very grateful.
One of Deb's first visits was with Alice. Alice came in and told Deb that she and her son went to the doctor's office. She said, "We walked out of the office and I said to my son, do I have cancer? And he said I am not sure." Alice provided Deb with her medical records, and they looked at them together. It turned out that Alice has stage 4 cancer. Alice had declined surgery and treatment. Deb referred her to a HealthEast physician that respected Alice’s choice. Alice also came back and asked two staff members to witness her advanced care directive.
Deb was happy that she was able to spend more time with Alice and talk to her on a more personal level instead of a medical level. She was able to integrate health and wellness and offer support to her on her journey.
Mike came in to see Deb, and she took his blood pressure. She told him it was very high and he should see his doctor right away. He left and called his doctor. His doctor told him that because of his extremely high blood pressure, he recommended a EKG. The test revealed a blockage and Mike went in for surgery. Fortunately, Mike was able to avoid a heart attack and a more invasive surgery.
Deb learned that St. John's Hospital was offering free prostate screenings. Deb invited four men from City Passport to the prostrate screenings. These men did not see a physician on a regular basis. Deb arranged for the City of Saint Paul to provide a van to take them there. City Passport provided pizza prior to the screenings. The men reported that the St. John's staff and physician reduced their anxiety about the screening. Deb was able to answer their individual questions about their results and offer referrals as needed.