Faith Community Nursing: Our Calling Is Now

Cari Moodie, BSN, RN
HMA Director for Faith Community Nursing

I have been a faith community nurse for over 10 years and I feel as though the present moment is our time to shine. Now more than ever.

My faith community nursing journey started when I began to volunteer with the health ministry at my church. I was a nurse, raising my children and taking a significant break from employment. I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to serve the church community and the health ministry seemed like a great fit for me. I eventually became the Red Cross blood drive coordinator, mainly because I could organize this from home on my own time. As time went on, I became more and more involved and learned quickly what Faith Community Nursing was all about. In the Boise, Idaho area the faith community nurses are blessed to have the support of Saint Alphonsus Health System, a large hospital system. They offer FCN network coordination, liability insurance, monthly education /meeting/collaboration sessions, a yearly celebration of FCN Network unpaid/volunteer hours, yearly spiritual retreat, etc. The wonderful woman that lead the Saint Alphonsus Faith Community Nurses in Boise, ID had recently passed away and the program was declining without an official coordinator. I was asked by the lead FCN at my church if I was interested in a very small part-time job coordinating the FCNs with Saint Alphonsus. At that time, it was only 8 hours per week, funded by a hospital foundation grant. There was not a great amount of interest because it was such a small amount of hours and funded by a grant that was not guaranteed to be funded every year. I believe it was by divine intervention that this job was available at this very time. I would not have considered any more hours because I still had 3 school-aged children, kindergarten through 4th grade at home. I applied for the job and received an offer. The rest is history, I suppose. I am approaching my 10th year of employment with Saint Alphonsus. The program has grown and received so much support from local churches, Saint Alphonsus Health System, and local community service agencies. The program became fully funded by the hospital and has a stable pool of over 120 unpaid professional FCNs that donate close to 8000 hours of service per year to our community members. It is a priority of mine each year to report to the hospital leadership the programs, hours, and collaborations that the unpaid, professional FCNs donate to the community. Pre-COVID we would hold free foot care clinics in homeless shelters, provide suicide prevention and awareness resources to adults and school-aged children, provide home visits, advocacy, assistance navigating medical issues and health care accessibility, be there for individuals seeking prayer and presence, etc.

Then COVID-19 hit and the world slowed way down. I am happy to report that the FCNs in the Boise area were not halted. The hospital leadership saw our potential to help churches pivot to virtual services, check-in by phone with homebound members, and eventually reopen with the appropriate health and safety precautions in place. The hospital system procured thermometers for FCNs to screen individuals before entering church buildings, assisted with acquiring /making masks and putting hand sanitizer in useful areas, and increased cleaning protocols in place. The FCNs were already a trusted source for reliable information and it was even more evident when COVID hit. The community members were frightened and unsure of what to do with the global pandemic. The FCN’s did what they always do and helped calm the storm. Trusted information was written in church newsletters and email blasts, offering the latest science-based national data as well as providing local resources for food banks, health care, grocery delivery services, how to stay safe when you have to go out, proper wearing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), hand washing, surface cleaning protocol, etc.

As time went on the hospital system received the COVID-19 vaccine. I was blown away by the amount of FCNs that wanted to sign up to volunteer in the vaccine clinics. These amazing nurses are relentless in serving our community. They are truly a blessing to each and every individual they serve.

Once the vaccine clinic was in place and logistics were ironed out the FCNs were offered either to be employed or an unpaid option to be a part of this historic vaccine effort. It has been an amazingly beautiful “All Hands-on Deck” approach to serving our community.

It is truly a blessing to be a faith community nurse in a global pandemic.

By Cari Moodie, BSN, RN