1. Harris, Marilyn MSN, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN

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As a home care and hospice nurse I had the opportunity to, and am comfortable with, visiting homes in various neighborhoods and meeting patients and families with varied backgrounds as well as physical challenges. When I retired, these experiences were an excellent fit when my faith community became interested in establishing a formalized health component to the congregational care ministry (CCM). I became the coordinator of the program. I wrote policies, procedures, position descriptions for volunteers, and prepared a budget for supplies for approval by the church council. Since 2000, I have the privilege of increased connections with members and friends of my faith community at church activities or with those who cannot attend due to acute or chronic illness or are hospitalized. Some of my responsibilities as the coordinator include:


* Scheduling blood pressure screenings before and after services on a periodic basis


* Coordinating blood drives twice a year


* Serving as a mentor for student nurses who earn community service hours by taking blood pressures at the monthly community dinner at the church


* Addressing emergency situations during worship


* Scheduling cardiopulmonary resuscitation classes


* Requesting and filing state required child safety reports for all volunteers


* Writing a column for the monthly newsletter and responding to requests for information


* Visiting and coordinating visits with members and friends in their homes, the hospital, or other facilities



For home visits, I usually telephone to determine the best time to visit. My first visit today was with a 97-year-old woman in a skilled nursing facility. I spent an hour with her, listening to updates on her medical status and her extended family. My next visit was with a 92-year-old woman who lives alone in an apartment. She is ambulatory with a walker. Sometimes we have lunch in a restaurant but today she wanted to take a walk and sit outside. I spent about 11/2 hours with her and, as an elected Elder in the church, shared communion with her before I left. My next stop was at an assisted living community. The man I planned to visit has numerous medical conditions and was asleep in his room. Based on the staff's report, I didn't disturb him but left my card and church publications. He usually calls the church office after a visit to say thank you for remembering him.


Other CCM nurses also make home visits, calls, and mail cards. At times, we provide transportation or accompany individuals to doctor visits. Sometimes individuals need an advocate, with their permission, to suggest home healthcare services that may benefit them. During the past 2 years, I invited individuals I visit to share their "Living History" with me. I provide a list of suggestions to share what happened during their lifetime, and what advice they want to share. I write their stories for them to review. With their permission, these interviews are printed in the church's monthly newsletter. Individuals often share little known and interesting facts about themselves.


Recently, I am a member of a multichurch team that is helping a vetted refuge family who arrived in our area get settled in a house. Many house furnishings were available through the agency staff who worked with the family. Home visits include various tasks to assist the family make the house a home.


I always knew I wanted to be a nurse. What a wonderful profession I chose as I have the opportunity to continue to share my nursing skills as a volunteer following retirement. As my husband always said: "The only thing you retired from was a paycheck!"