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COVID-19 and Faith Community Nurses

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jeastridge has 36 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Faith Community Nurse (FCN).

5 Followers; 110 Articles; 150,528 Profile Views; 449 Posts

How has COVID-19 affected Faith Communities?

Read one Faith Community nurses' story below and share your own experiences.

COVID-19 and Faith Community Nurses

For the past few weeks, my morning cup of coffee has accompanied an early morning check of the overnight news. While I am not a regular “news junkie,” I generally browse through it first, but this has been a different kind of time, flavored with a bit of urgency: reading with interest what the CDC has said and done overnight, checking to see whether there are new cases in our particular area, and getting caught up on the latest in research related to the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

The Unknown

The biggest revelation every day is what we still do not know:

  • What precisely is the incubation time of this virus?
  • How well do our antivirals work?
  • When will we get a vaccine?
  • What is the death rate, exactly?
  • What stopped it in China? Was it social distancing or had all the susceptible people already contracted the disease?
  • How many people have mild or asymptomatic cases that we don’t know about?

We all search for and long to know answers to these questions. The answers are coming, but slowly. The test kits are also coming, but very slowly.

We don’t really know what the state of current research is, or how close we might be to developing a test for antibodies (to see if someone has had it).  We don’t know if anyone is close to developing some sort of vaccination or treatment. For now, we have little to go on.

Preparation and Action

So, how do we prepare for, and address a relatively unknown entity?

 STEP 1  Admitting we do not know is a start.  

As we make contingency plans, we must plan rationally and wisely for worst-case scenarios while hoping that the best will be a reality.

 STEP 2  Reaching out with hope and help to others.

As humans, we need each other and social isolation plays havoc with that part of our make-up. Being conscious of our neighbors and friends who are lonely, is a starting point toward making a difference. Even while maintaining our “social distance” we can wave from a distance or smile to brighten up long days.

 STEP 3  Get outside.

or my at-risk parishioners, I recommend some time outside, whenever possible. There is something about fresh air and open windows that helps clear depressing thoughts and make sadness and isolation more manageable.

 STEP 4  Plan for the long haul and hope for the short.

Taking some time now to organize call groups, to plan for food deliveries, and to help with needed transport, can possibly help mitigate some of the deleterious effects of a long quarantine time.

 STEP 5  Encourage self-quarantine whenever there is any doubt.

As members of the faith community, we want to be helpful to the public at large, and act as responsibly and selflessly as possible. Staying home when we feel the least bit ill, can be the first step. While most of us are used to trying to push through illness, it was never a great idea and now it is dangerous to others.

As FCNs, it is often our job to educate our church community and to help them discern fact from fiction. In our time of information overload, that in itself is not an easy task. While it seems that misinformation spreads like an accelerant-fed-fire, the less sexy facts sometimes are ignored or not given the same attention and air or print time.

Some of the messages we try to convey include:

COVID-19 is a brand new virus and no one has built up immunity.

While it can be mild in 80% of persons, the other 20% are at risk of needing advanced supportive care (possibly hospital-based).

The initial symptoms are cough and fever and not the typical runny nose/congestion/sore throat picture we see with the common cold. (Unless, of course, it turns out that many of them do have this Coronavirus, and we just haven’t tested them.)

It appears to be very contagious and we don’t know everything about how it spreads.

Flatten the Curve

flattening-the-curve.jpg.146ab8831161f3d519534bf641682482.jpg

In the USA, we would like to “flatten the curve” by practicing active social distancing and taking a break from usual activities. If we are successful, this will mean that while people will still get the disease, they will get it over a longer period of time and the burdened medical system will not be overwhelmed.

The pandemic has been working its way around the world since January. Already we are seeing lessons learned in areas that have faced the outbreak and begun to see a decline, particularly South Korea where there are many Christian communities.

In addition to the epidemiological concerns that all community health nurses have, FCNs have the additional opportunity to facilitate faith community fellowship, prayer interventions, and worship in ways that don’t spread the virus.

Necessary Changes

Over the last few weeks, churches have been trying to respond nimbly to breaking news. This is not a natural stance for religious congregations who tend to take things slowly, ponder over them, and then issue statements once unity is achieved. We have not had that luxury in this pandemic. We have had to look at situations, weigh options, take bold action by canceling many events, all the while working to stay connected and to continue to offer members of the faith community the support that they need. Many faith-communities have faced criticism for their actions: both staying open and closing down. As Faith Community Nurses, we are key to helping our leaders and parishioners understand necessary changes and, therefore, be better able to comply.

Joy currently works as a FCN. She has been a nurse for many years and worked in a variety of settings. She enjoys writing and has published a children's book and Bible studies.

5 Followers; 110 Articles; 150,528 Profile Views; 449 Posts

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218 Posts; 2,953 Profile Views

As of last Sunday, many, if not most Catholic dioceses suspended the Sunday Mass Obligation (in other words, you could choose to go or not).  And a few outright cancelled Mass.

This week a lot of diocese are cancelling Mass.

My parish sent out an email with links to online spiritual resources (like Bible studies, Mass for shut-ins, etc).

Our local soup kitchen is open, but only to hand out bag meals at the door.  No more dining service for the meanwhile.

I'm pretty sure our Aid For Friends (faith based meals on wheels) is still operational.

Edited by Daisy Joyce

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Please, pray to St Michael the Archangel, the protector of those from the plague. Please pray to our Lady for protection, but that most of all, the people will repent and return to God’s way. 

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Kharis has 15 years experience as a BSN, RN, EMT-P and specializes in Neuro, ED, Cardiac, Workflow, Project Mgmt.

15 Posts; 159 Profile Views

As Team Lead last night, I tried to encourage my team with this passage from Psalm 91: 

"Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday."

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jeastridge has 36 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Faith Community Nurse (FCN).

5 Followers; 110 Articles; 449 Posts; 150,528 Profile Views

3 hours ago, Kharis said:

As Team Lead last night, I tried to encourage my team with this passage from Psalm 91: 

"Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday."

Thank you for sharing. We all need this word of encouragement. Joy

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