ISAIAH: A Parish Nursing Perspective

by Jill Stewart, RN FCN

If you have looked at ISAIAH’s web page, you will see that it is an organization striving to build a healthy, just, and vibrant Minnesota where everyone can thrive. That is a broad goal. It is also a great fit with Faith Community /Parish Nursing, which seeks to promote and support spiritual and physical well being of the congregation and broader community. Both entities confirm the inherent worth and dignity of each person and seek whole and healthy lives for our neighbors and for ourselves. Both work in partnership with local and national public health agencies to improve wellness in body, mind, and spirit.

Recognizing the healthful intent of its programs, the Minnesota Nurses Association has endorsed Isaiah. The health of the body, mind and spirit are inextricably linked in a kind of “health trinity”. Faith community nursing is involved with caring for each of these aspects of physical and spiritual life. It is easy for me to see that large sections of my professional mission at Gloria Dei overlap with ISAIAH’s.

ISAIAH is a member of Healthy Heartlands, a regional faith informed collaborative that seeks to improve health of children and families in lower socioeconomic areas. This is important because public health data has shown a higher incidence of diseases like cancer, asthma, heart disease, diabetes and mental health conditions in zip codes where incomes and education levels tend to be lower. These areas frequently have higher levels of contamination with lead and other pollution, lack safe places to exercise, play or work and may be “food deserts” where there are no grocery stores.

ISAIAH’s work, like Faith Community Nursing in particular and public health in general, recognizes that where and how we live impacts our health. This can include neighborhood safety, better nutrition, education and empowerment towards self-actualization.  Investments in health and education will save lives and money, but more importantly, ensuring that our friends, family and neighbors have a fair chance to stay healthy upholds their human worth and dignity. Respecting the worth of each person is central to parish nursing, to Isaiah’s mission, and – in treating others as we would like to be treated-following our Lord’s instructions about how we should strive to live together.

It is said that “we all do better when we all do better”. While we have opportunities every day to help one another, we expect our elected officials to act on behalf of the entire population, enacting good for all of us. There are only a few weeks left until we have a chance to cast our ballots. As voters, we have opportunities and obligations to be well informed about electoral candidates and party platforms. We can make voting a priority and can keep our representatives informed about our concerns in the weeks leading up to the election. When we vote our values, we engage in partnership to build a healthier community where everyone can thrive.