During the darkest and coldest days of winter, it is not uncommon for viruses and illnesses to roam throughout the community. As we navigate cold and flu season, it can be helpful to know of various resources available for our parish.
The Parish Nurse Program here at Blessed Sacrament seeks to support our parishioners with their physical and spiritual needs. Mary Anne Hinchey leads this ministry for our parish community.
“It’s really a health ministry because anyone who has any kind of formal health training can be part of the team,” Mary Anne says.
This includes anything from psychiatrists and nursing assistants to pharmacists and beyond. The ministry used to host various workshops and events for our community, but since the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry has not started these up again. It does, however, serve the community in ongoing ways throughout the year.
“I am always busy because there’s always somebody in need,” Mary Anne says.
On the first weekend of each month, Mary Anne leads a blood pressure screening for parishioners after all the weekend Masses. She also writes essays in the parish bulletin depending on the season, such as information regarding heat protection in the summer, or vaccinations in the winter. She also hosts educational sessions and occasionally speaks at our senior luncheons.
Another ongoing means of support includes “brown bag” consultations, where parishioners can bring in their prescription and over-the-counter medications and speak with a pharmacist about what they are currently taking.
Mary Anne has been a registered nurse for over 50 years and has worked in many different areas of health care, including nursing homes, public health settings, obstetrics, surgical procedures, intensive care, and more.
“I have had a broad experience,” she says. “In my nursing experience, I kind of say I’m a generalist. I’ve done a little bit of everything. I consider my experience to be general because I have not focused on a single thing my whole career. The closest focus has been more like a community health focus.”
As part of her role as parish nurse, Mary Anne also facilitates and coordinates a few social services within the parish, such as assistance with the food pantry and supporting the Compass Group’s efforts.
“It is all connected,” she says. “A lot of what I do is also social service.”
Spiritual and physical health are also connected, she says. It is important to take care of someone’s baseline physical and material needs in order to further assist in their spiritual needs. Mary Anne is available during office hours and her door is open to those who need assistance, whether it be for health-related matters, consultations, advice, or just someone who can listen.
“They know Blessed Sacrament is the place to go when they need help,” she says.
Any healthcare professionals are welcome to get involved with this ministry by calling Mary Anne Hinchey at 308-384-0532, ext. 211.