Faith Community Nurses Help Fight Chronic Illness

86 million Americans have prediabetes, a condition in which blood sugar levels are elevated, but have not yet escalated to type 2 diabetes. It often has no symptoms, but left untreated, it can develop into diabetes. Fortunately, prediabetes can be reversed with moderate exercise, healthier eating, and weight loss of just 5 to7 percent. (You can check here to see if you’re at risk.)

In Southeast Michigan, a broad coalition of organizations and agencies has come together to help.

Macomb Partners in Health was formed by the Greater Detroit Area Health Council in March 2015 to improve the health of the community by helping to reduce obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke in Eastpointe, Roseville, Warren and Center Line.

With a 4-year grant from the Centers for Disease control, they have created the Health Around the Corner initiative to help raise awareness of prediabetes and teach the skills necessary to reverse it. The National Kidney Foundation of Michigan is implementing a similar program in Wayne and Oakland Counties.

The grant covers a wide range of projects, including working with schools, businesses stores and health systems to increase the availability of healthy foods and increase physical activity.

The year-long diabetes prevention program (DPP) is a class taught by trained lifestyle coaches who work with groups of participants to help them reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by losing weight through healthy eating, being more physically active, and learning to identify and address barriers to healthy eating and physical activity.

The class has a remarkable success rate of helping 58% of participants to reverse their prediabetes.

The Greater Detroit Area Health Council, a non-profit collaborative that brings together partners from health, business and community to improve the health of southeast Michigan and the National Kidney Foundation host an interactive website listing of DPP classes.

The program offers a two-day training for the DPP lifestyle coaches, many of who are faith community nurses, once called parish nurses.  Faith community nurses are licensed, registered nurses who combine nursing knowledge and spiritual care, working as members of the pastoral team in a variety of religious faiths, cultures, and countries. Among their efforts to help members of the faith community to maintain and/or regain wholeness in body, mind, and spirit, they are bringing the DPP program into houses of worship around the area.

In July 2015, the IFLC convened a new Health & Healthcare Committee. The committee’s membership represents all major health systems in metro Detroit (Henry Ford Health System, Beaumont Health, St. Joseph Mercy Health System, the Detroit Medical Center, and St. John Providence) as well as Authority Health and the Greater Detroit Area Health Council.   After two months of concerted, thoughtful consideration and best practice review, the committee has proposed to apply its collective expertise and collaborative spirit to an initiative to expand the nationally approved curriculum to train nurses outside of the Christian tradition.