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Beyond traditional walls: GMC’s Faith Community Nursing

Begun in 1994, Gwinnett Medical Center’s Faith Community Nursing department works to enhance wellness for the people of Gwinnett County and beyond. Generally, Faith Community nurses work within specific congregations, but a few work in nontraditional settings. Here are two: 

Debbie Huckaby, M-Div, MBA, RN

Stone Mountain Park
Vicki Parker, Health Advocate Nurse, has an office with a train, a sky lift, 3,300 acres and a mountain top view. Her pedometer measures more than 10,000 steps each day as she visits her patients where they work, at Stone Mountain Park. According to Parker, she’s “building a team of people focusing on better health–physically, mentally and spiritually.” She provides health education and connects employees with programs and services in the community. But most importantly, she listens and encourages. “Because they know I care,” she adds, “employees are willing to share their health concerns and to work towards a solution.” 

Norcross Community Ministries
Faith Community Nurse Donna Galucki has a ministry based on short-term, episodic relationships. Galucki is Faith Community Nurse for the Norcross Community Ministries, a cooperative of many churches who represent some 25,000 folks.  Working with grant funds and support from member congregations, the cooperative has the goal to minister to 20 families in crisis due to homelessness and unemployment/underemployment.  Through referrals from the case manager, Galucki works alongside the cooperative to help return these families to independent living and sustainable lifestyles.

Cultural Expansion
Another expansion is cultural in nature. Over a hundred different languages are spoken by GMC’s patients and this diversity is reflected in the nurses who take the Faith Community Nursing Foundations Course. Our most recent course included nurses from the United States, Canada, Romania, Jamaica, Bermuda, Kenya and Haiti. Instructors represented Ukraine, Rwanda, Egypt, Syria and Kenya. The course, offered each spring and fall, provides basic preparation for registered nurses from anywhere in the region to become faith community nurses.

Faith Community Network
In 2012, GMC initiated its latest innovative practice to improve the health of our community –the Faith Community Network. Based on a very successful model from a Tennessee hospital system, GMC’s Faith Community Network is a partnership between the hospital and churches. GMC provides a hospital-based full-time Faith Community Network nurse navigator and the church provides dedicated, trained liaisons. 

Members of the partnering community group can sign up for the free program, making them “members.” When a member is admitted, GMC’s Faith Community Network nurse navigator visits the member, gets consent and notifies the church clergy and/or liaison of the patient’s admission.  The navigator works with the member during his or her hospitalization, and then works with the liaison to coordinate the resources of the church to support the member’s healing journey once he or she leaves the hospital. The church’s support might include providing transportation for follow-up appointments, locating a walker or wheelchair, providing child care or other needed help. 

Faith Community Nursing fills a need in the community, incorporating the practice of nursing for the global world and whole-person health for people where they live. GMC is excited to be at the forefront of this movement. Learn more at