The Essence of American Heart Month: A Wesley Nurse Perspective

As we close out the month of February, let’s not skip a beat when it comes to our hearts. American Heart Month is a time health workers, advocates, and organizations emphasize the importance of our cardiovascular health. Think of your heart, blood vessels, and blood circulation working together as a system; they all rely on each other.. However, challenges exist for many people across the country.

Between 2017 and 2020, the American Heart Association reported 48.6 percent of United States adults experienced a form of cardiovascular disease or CVD. The term refers to several ailments like high blood pressure, heart failure, coronary artery disease, stroke, and heart arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats). Health conditions, pertaining to obesity, diabetes and blood cholesterol levels can increase the chances of CVD; yet most of the risk comes down to our day-to-day decisions. A poor diet, tobacco use, and lack of exercise are often associated with CVD.

We can mitigate risk factors by making conscious decisions and efforts to improve our health. Put an end to tobacco use, manage your blood sugar, exercise regularly and opt for a balanced diet; think of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains.

While it’s critical we focus on making better decisions; we should not forget our spiritual and emotional health. As a Wesley Nurse, I recognize the impact these aspects have on our hearts. The heart is not just a muscle that pumps blood; instead, it’s often considered the place of feelings and thoughts. I urge everyone to listen to their hearts in both the physical and spiritual sense. Some people seek out prayer or meditation, while other may want to talk to a counselor or enjoy time to themselves.

The journey to achieving optimal health will look different for everyone, but it begins by taking the first step. If you are having trouble; let’s talk about it. If you have a solution that could help others; I encourage you to share. American Heart Month may be ending, but it’s never too late to show others, and yourself a little more love.

References

  1. Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Heart disease – Symptoms and causes. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20353118
  2. American Heart Association. (2024). Heart and Stroke Statistics – 2024 At-A-Glance. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/-/media/PHD-Files-2/Science-News/2/2024-Heart-and-Stroke-Stat-Update/2024-Statistics-At-A-Glance-final_2024.pdf
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). American Heart Month 2024 Toolkits. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/american_heart_month.htm

Men’s Health Awareness Month – One Patient’s Access to Care Journey

June is recognized as Men’s Health Month across the nation and it’s a time to encourage men everywhere to take a proactive approach to their health and wellbeing. With over 13.2% men over the age of 18 considered to be in poor health, according to the CDC, it’s important to create a space to share stories and resources that emphasize the holistic wellbeing of the men in the communities we serve.

At Methodist Healthcare Ministries, we have a variety of programs and resources to help men along their health journeys. One story from our Wesley Nurse program is a great example of how men can utilize these resources to get access to care for unique issues they face.

On Wednesday nights, Marlene Anders, our Wesley Nurse in Travis County goes to the Lakeway Food Bank where she works with community members to provide food for low-income individuals in her area. As the MHM Wesley Nurse in that area for over nine years, she’s built a network that provides help to each other when needed.

“It’s a system that I just find remarkable because I collaborate with them and sometimes people will come in and say that if you can help them with this, they’ll help you with that,” Marlene said. “It’s a very give and take relationship and it works very well.”

Although Lakeway City is a higher income area with an average household earning around $143,000 per year, according to the U.S. Census (2017-2021), there are still what Marlene calls “pockets of poverty” where people live without access to clean water, plumbing or even showers. These communities are around HWY 62 and Apache Shores where inhabitants are often unseen and sometimes unwanted.

Marlene met one of these community members through working with the Food Bank and happened into a conversation she was not expecting. The man had been a client of the food bank for several years, but she had not had the chance to meet with him yet.

“My badge said I was an RN so he started up this conversation and I could tell he was anxious. I could tell he was in some kind of pain and so he just kind of blurted out his problem,” Marlene said. “And it took me back a little bit because that’s one issue I haven’t come up against and it had me going through all of my knowledge from school.”

The patient noted a strange pain in his groin and trouble urinating which after diagnosing as a testicular hydrocele, Marlene recommended that the patient immediately go to an emergency room.

The patient, who did not have insurance, worked with Marlene to apply to the Travis County Medical Access Program or MAP. Through this process, Marlene also found out that the patient lived in a small lean-to shed in Apache Shores where he did not have access to toilet or shower facilities. The patient also had no access to transportation, making access to care much more difficult. After this process, she met with the patient at Seton Emergency Room after arranging transportation and prior paperwork.

“They ended up calling the security guard on him because they thought he was a homeless person,” Marlene explained. “This is what he’s up against.”

From there, Marlene worked with the patient to undergo an operation that would temporarily relieve the pain and other symptoms by negotiating with the clinic staff to bring down the out-of-pocket costs for the procedure to $84 which she paid using Wesley Nurse special funds. While the procedure was only temporary, she’s still working with the patient to acquire personal transportation and access to a more permanent solution to his health issue.

“It’s an ongoing process,” Marlene said. “Not anything that happens overnight, because they didn’t get into their situation overnight either.”

Marlene, who has been with MHM for over 26 years since she started in 1997, has worked with many patients who face extreme poverty and the biases that come with it. There are over 3.7 million people in Texas living at or below the poverty line and over 5 million individuals without health insurance according to data from Every Texan, formerly the Center of Public Policy Priorities.

“We’ve been talking a lot about health equity and the state where everybody can attain their full potential of health no matter what their circumstances.” Marlene said, reflecting on the experience with the patient. “But we’ve always been doing it. I think that what I do now is the same as what I did back in 1997.”

At MHM, we approach health from a holistic perspective that considers the entire wellbeing of our patients and communities. For more information on men’s health and resources to share, view the links below.

Additional Resources:

A few words from your Wesley Nurse: God’s garden

What a beautiful spring we’ve had. I am blessed to have a firsthand view of God’s garden along the country roads I take to work. When I arrive at the church, I am greeted by God’s beautiful handiwork: the lovingly cultivated field of poppies, an assortment of bright, sunny-colored flowers, and the serene beauty of the tranquil prayer garden tended by a few of our dedicated congregation members. We’ve been fortunate that the rains came in at just the right amount so that wildflowers that normally await their turn to bloom are all clamoring for attention at once. What a sight to behold! But of course, to have this beauty, we must endure some adversity – thunderous storms, power outages and flooding. That’s springtime in Texas!

Like the ebb and flow of nature, human existence similarly goes through ups and downs. Although God gave us the beautiful gifts of forgiveness and unconditional love through His Son, sometimes we must go through some adversity and trials to see and appreciate the beauty of it all. We need the ‘watering’ of God’s love, and His word to thrive and carry us through rough times.

As a Faith Community Nurse for Methodist Healthcare Ministries (located at First United Methodist Church, Luling), I give new patients a brief spiritual assessment containing these three statements:

  1.  I find comfort in my faith or spiritual beliefs.
  2.  Difficult times have strengthened my faith or spiritual beliefs.
  3.  Even during difficult times, I know that things will be OK.

This helps me learn how to best approach a patient’s visit and get a sense of their spirituality.

Typically, most of my patients, as dire as their situations are, still respond that they do have faith. Which is why I was heartbroken when I recently met a new homeless patient that had lost his. He told me he used to attend church, but for a long time now he has felt “like gum on the bottom of God’s shoes.” He didn’t think God cared about him anymore. For me, that’s where the ‘faith’ in Faith Community Nurse kicked in. We talked for some time. Given his circumstance, it was easy to understand why this man felt abandoned. Together, we talked about God’s love and forgiveness — that no matter what may have happened in our past, we’re fortunate to have the forgiveness of a loving Father.

Moving forward for him will be challenging. It’ll also be a work in progress building his trust. But I felt hopeful and uplifted when we parted ways and I reached out to shake his hand. Instead, he hugged me like his life depended on it. He was so thankful we’d gotten to talk.

Our meeting and conversation must have meant a lot to him because the next day when I called him, a friend of his answered and thanked me profusely for taking the time with him that I did. I felt happy that I made a difference. I felt I was the vessel being used to ‘water’ his soul, and I believe in time, he will blossom again.

Until next time, be well and be blessed.

The body of Christ is not one member, but many

“For the body is not one member, but many.” – I Corinthians 12:14

This summer, I received a call from one of my community partners looking for assistance for one of their patients. After some background information, I learned the patient has a form of early dementia and needed help making a doctor’s appointment. Working alongside my Methodist Healthcare Ministries team members, we were able to help “Mrs.” not only get a doctor’s visit in place but also help her in various other ways as well.

As a Wesley Nurse, my job not only entails helping my clients get access to health care but also looking at their social determinants of health.

My journey of assistance began with a visit to Mrs.’ home. I was accompanied by my fellow team member, Aaron Milan, one of our community health workers. When we arrived at Mrs.’ home, we discovered she lived in a mobile trailer and that the steps leading up to her doorstep were not sturdy. She told us that she had fallen on them a few times before. As a community health worker, Aaron’s role is to build community partnerships and connect people to health care services and resources, so he had the contact information for a company that builds ramps. After working together and pooling our resources, a team was secured to build a new ramp and steps outside the trailer. The new addition helped Mrs. and her family access their home safely. She responded, “It’s nice to know people still care.”

As we continued talking to Mrs., we discovered she also needed assistance acquiring her medications, so my next step was connecting her to Karen Green, my fellow Wesley Nurse in San Angelo. Karen was able to help Mrs. obtain some of her medications right away and direct her to a nearby prescription assistance program.

With the timing of the Texas Mission of Mercy event in San Angelo – an event chaired by another fellow Wesley Nurse, Teresa Whitley – Mrs. and her husband were also able to receive dental services.

By collaborating with my team members and with community partners, we were all able to care for a patient in need. This is how the verse from I Corinthians 12:14 symbolizes our ministry, “for the body is not one member, but many.

What is a Wesley Nurse? A look at the specialty of faith community nursing.

This year, we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of our Wesley Nurse program, a faith community nursing program that provides holistic care – body, mind and spirit – through education, health promotion and facilitation of community resources.

While we have an extensive outreach program throughout 74 counties in South Texas, some may wonder what being a Wesley Nurse is all about. Simply put, Wesley Nurses help individuals and communities improve their health and wellness through self-empowerment and access to health care resources and information.

Before talking more about faith community nursing and Wesley Nurses, let’s talk about registered nurses in general. Most of us have had contact with an RN at some point in our lives, whether through the illness of a loved one, our own health care needs or at school. You may have seen your registered nurse removing or replacing a medical device, setting the rate on an IV pump, teaching topics such as nutrition, asking a lot of invasive questions or checking your blood pressure. An RN differs from other types of health care professionals in that they may practice independently of other health care providers, or in collaboration with them. As such, many situations call for a team approach. Respect for human dignity and a primary commitment to the patient (or community of patients) are the basis for all nursing actions, in addition to promoting health, and advocating for and protecting the rights, health and safety of patients. According to the American Nurses Association, RNs are collaborators, ethicists, agents of social justice and accountable for their own actions. RNs observe, identify, name a problem or risk, and then reduce suffering; this is followed by observing the response and carefully adjusting or repeating the process until the goal is reached. An RN’s restorative work is not simply limited to physical well-being, but at its best, also encompasses care for the emotional, social and spiritual care of the patient and their loved ones.

Within registered nursing there are subspecialties. Each requires specialized education and training, such as residencies or mentoring after becoming licensed. One of those subspecialties is faith community nursing. Faith Community Nursing draws its heritage from the roots of nursing, which evolved from the early church and the concept of Shalom, which is wholeness, completeness, contentment and peace. Faith community nurses differ from clinical specialties (e.g. trauma nursing, surgical nursing, home health nursing) in that their focus is on intentional nurturing of the patient’s spirit. As a faith community nurse, I work within a community to prevent illness and promote practices that lead to the best health. With my patients, I carry out practices such as active listening, counsel, prayer, presence, advocacy, referral and education.

Within the faith community nursing specialty, a group of more than 80 nurses, belonging to Methodist Healthcare Ministries are referred to as Wesley Nurses. We provide care to uninsured and at-risk individuals and are knowledgeable in professional nursing and spiritual care. Wesley Nurses document what takes place in the lives of their patients, track outcomes carefully, plan programs to address the education needs of a population, and develop relationships with people in the community. After my roles in emergency, home health and management settings, I am pleased to have been led to this calling. I’m currently working on donating diapers to assist Helping Hands, inviting the community to a back-to-school event, delivering meals to families over the summer, arranging for patient transportation to doctor appointments and writing cards to/visiting people who feel isolated. As a Wesley Nurse, I’m challenged to use all of what I have learned as an RN and as a follower of Christ.

Amy Roedl, RN, is a Wesley Nurse with Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc. Methodist Healthcare Ministries' Wesley Nurse program is a faith-based, holistic health and wellness program committed to serving the least served through education, health promotion and collaboration with individual and community in achieving improved wellness through self-empowerment. To learn more, visit www.mhm.org or contact Amy at aroedl@mhm.org.

Conveying the intangible through photography

A few months ago, I sat down with my communications team to discuss ways to celebrate the 20th anniversary of our Wesley Nurse program. Naturally, my inclination was towards incorporating video or photography, and after some brainstorming, we landed on the concept of a portrait series.

Now, the work of a Wesley Nurse can be described on a page through a string of words like faith-based, community and holistic, but there aren't words that I've found that effectively capture the spirit of the Wesley Nurse. While no two Wesley Nurses are the same, their faith and commitment to serving the least served in their communities is evident in everything they do. I've been blessed to have had opportunities to work with many of our nurses, and after every encounter, I'm left in awe and inspired by the influence they each have on countless lives. My challenge was to find a way to capture that feeling while conveying their work.

With these hands is a series of 10 photos that I created to bring together the words used to describe the Wesley Nurse program with the intangible, indescribable feeling of care that every one of them brings to their communities. I chose to focus on the hands of the nurses in this series because like our Nurses, describing hands on paper is easy. Five fingers each (usually), a palm, attached to a wrist. But if you look closely at hands, they are as nuanced as each one of our 83 nurses. They are capable of doing amazing things. They represent so much more than phalanges and metacarpals, muscles and tendons. They're how we experience the world through our sense of touch and feel. My hope is that these photos will impart a sense of feeling and emotion in viewers that words fail to communicate.

I'd like to thank Jennifer Knoulton, vice president of regional operations, nursing, and Catalina Schultze-Kraft, director of regional nursing & wellness programs, for their support and insight with this project. I'd also like to thank my wonderful hand models for their help. Thank you to Pam Castles, Danna Dyess, Yvonne Trevino, Kathy Bates, Sonia Cavazos, Kathy Jimenez, Pat Stepherson, Dawn Gonzales, Celeste Reid and Yvonne Garcia. Please return the favor and give them a hand. Thanks to everyone of our Wesley Nurses for living out our mission of "Serving Humanity to Honor God."

Dustin Wenger is the multimedia production coordinator for Methodist Healthcare Ministries, where he manages all aspects of video production from conceptualization to distribution across various channels. He also oversees all photography for the organization as well as provides graphic design support.

Wesley Nurse program celebrates 20 years of faith community nursing

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Methodist Healthcare Ministries' Wesley Nurse Program, a faith community nursing program committed to providing holistic care – body, mind and spirit – through education, health promotion and facilitation of community resources. The program is Methodist Healthcare Ministries' largest program geographically with plans to expand to 83 church sites in 2017.

Wesley Nurses are registered nurses employed by Methodist Healthcare Ministries but situated at churches throughout 74 counties in South Texas. They work with pastoral staff and community leaders to identify health care needs in the area and advocate for the health care needs of low-income and underinsured individuals and families. Their scope of practice focuses on the intentional care of the spirit, promotion of an integrative model of health and prevention and minimization of illness of individuals, families and communities.

"For the past 20 years, the Wesley Nurse program has done a tremendous job at building lasting and trusting relationships that allow us to successfully partner with individuals, families and communities, in rural and urban settings, to help address health needs beyond health care access.," explained Catalina Schultze-Kraft, director of regional nursing & wellness programs.

In honor of the program anniversary, Methodist Healthcare Ministries produced a special gallery entitled, "With these hands," which tells the story of Wesley Nurses through photography.

To learn more about the Wesley Nurse program, visit http://www.mhm.org/services/wesley-nurse

The Rock: A few words from a Wesley Nurse

By Rhonda 'Sue' Hunnicutt, RN, Wesley Nurse (Luling, Texas)

Recently, my husband and I were able to get away together to catch a few local estate sales. This was a rare opportunity for the both of us, and luck just wasn't with us on our treasure hunt. After lunch in Seguin, Texas, we took a back-road home hoping we might happen upon one or two more sales. Luckily, and quite by accident, we did.

As soon as I walked into the living room of the home where the sale was being conducted, an unusual print on the wall caught my eye. I don't usually find artwork to my taste at estate sales, but this one kept drawing me in, especially when I read the words superimposed on the print. It was a quote from Plato, "The part can never be well unless the whole is well." As a Wesley Nurse, we take a 'holistic' approach to health — mind, body, and spirit. This seemed perfect for my office. As I looked at the picture closely, I began to truly appreciate it. It reminded me of rocks covered in lichen, that I saw as a child, and as an adult hiking at Enchanted Rock. I thought, "There's no way this item will be priced at a price I can afford," but I had to ask anyway. It turns out the price was very reasonable so naturally, I had to buy this work of art for my office.

The cashier, her husband, and I conversed, as people tend to do at estate sales (one of the reasons I love going to them). We discussed how this print fit into the mission of a Wesley Nurse. Being in Seguin, and doing as most Wesley Nurses do, I switched gears to work mode and I asked the couple if they knew they had a Wesley Nurse in Seguin. "Why yes, we do," the man stated, his chest puffing up with pride. "Danna Dyess — we go to church with her!"

The print was accompanied by a card of authenticity, which had just a snippet on the print's origin. The print, aptly named "The Rock," was created by a local Seguin artist, Kolleen Kallus, who used a rock down the road from her home as inspiration. I was so excited to come upon such a treasure. I had to know more. I looked up the website for Kolleen's business listed on the card, Hope at the Heart®. From there, the most beautiful story unfolded. The story of a thirteen-year-old girl who had endured the shock and horror of stage-four ovarian cancer and survived! You see, by the time many women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, it's too late, and yet this teenage girl endured and triumphed over the chemotherapy and many surgeries required for her survival. As I read on, tears were flowing. She went on to follow her heart and used art as an expression of her faith, and still does so today. Clearly, she lives for God and gives Him the glory in her artwork and stories. Though Kolleen started out with photography, she gravitated toward her love of acrylics to create her beautiful works of art. Her relationship with Christ shines through her work and provides hope and inspiration to those who may feel hopeless.

Her story was so touching. I wanted to know more about the wonderful print of hers that I now owned, and about the person who created it. I found Kolleen on Facebook and reached out to her. Within a short time, she reached back! We have had lovely conversations, and she is an inspiration to me. She said that she is inspired by the roles of the Wesley Nurses, and was happy that the print found the home that it did. There are only two prints of "The Rock" — mine, and another commissioned by a physician in San Antonio.

Some may say it was coincidence, but I believe "The Rock" found me. The story is so much bigger than the print. It was God, our rock, my rock, THE rock, leading me to another sister in Christ. I feel honored that Kolleen has allowed me to re-tell her story. As so often happens in life, those 'nudges' or 'God winks' (as some people refer to them), lead us together for a higher purpose. I believe that happens in life more than we know, we just need to take the time to listen or watch for them.

Until next time, be well and be blessed.

Rhonda Hunnicutt, RN, is a Wesley Nurse with Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc. Methodist Healthcare Ministries' Wesley Nurse program is a faith-based, holistic health and wellness program committed to serving the least served through education, health promotion and collaboration with individual and community in achieving improved wellness through self-empowerment. Learn more at www.mhm.org

A few words from your Wesley Nurse: Sun Safety

By Rhonda Hunnicutt, RN, Wesley Nurse

We always need sunscreen! According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, daily use of sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15 (but higher is better) reduces the risk of skin cancers by as much as 40-50 percent. Again, some of my favorite nursing words to pass along … prevention and avoidance.

The damage from ultraviolet (UV) radiation is cumulative and can occur whenever our skin is exposed to damaging rays. Most of us are at an age where the sun damage that occurred to our skin previously now has the risk of manifesting as some type of skin cancer. Even people with darker pigmentation can still develop skin cancers. Though I try to avoid being in the sun without protection like the plague, in my younger days I would ride horses or play outside all day, and of course, my fair skin would burn.

I have been lucky that I've only had a basal cell carcinoma (cancer). Sadly I've known friends and family members who have battled the skin cancer melanoma – some successfully, and some not. A family friend of mine was diagnosed with melanoma, and by the grace of God, she is still with us today. My grandmother had melanoma that spread, and she eventually lost her battle with cancer.

When I worked with an oncologist, we had a patient who was an avid tanning bed enthusiast. She had melanoma and was undergoing radiation/chemotherapy but amazingly did not plan to stop tanning. Now some might cringe a bit, but I want to educate as many as I can on the dangers of UV damage … avoid tanning beds! Or as some refer to them, 'tanning coffins.' It is not a theory; it's been proven that tanning beds increase your risk of cancer. Each year, over 400,000 new cases of skin cancer are linked to indoor tanning. The International Agency for Research on Cancer lists UV-emitting tanning devices as carcinogenic to humans.

Recently, there has been some backlash or criticism on using self-tanners. Though I haven't found any research to substantiate the claims, I did find some interesting information. There is a 'sun-tanning' pill on the market containing a chemical compound called 'canthaxanthin' that can contribute to liver damage and is not approved by the FDA. Also, suntan mists can be unsafe and can be inhaled if precautions are not followed. The most common self-tanners contain an FDA-approved chemical called dihydroxyacetone, which reacts with cells on the skin's surface to create the illusion of a suntan. Some contain sunscreen but only last a limited time – two to three hours usually. Bottom line – tanning in the sun or using self-tanner does not provide sun protection so always use sunscreen.

Please visit www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/skin-cancer-facts to learn about skin cancer, tanning, UV radiation, and more.

Until next time, be well and be blessed.

Rhonda Hunnicutt, RN, is a Wesley Nurse with Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc. Methodist Healthcare Ministries' Wesley Nurse program is a faith-based, holistic health and wellness program committed to serving the least-served through education, health promotion and collaboration with individuals and communities to achieve improved wellness through self-empowerment. Learn more at www.mhm.org/programs/health-ministries

A few words from your Wesley Nurse: Zika Virus

By Rhonda Hunnicutt, RN, Wesley Nurse

I don't think anyone would argue what beautiful weather we had this spring. I've lived in and traveled to different areas of the country and the world, and the proud Texan in me thinks there's nothing more beautiful than our own Texas bluebonnets, Indian paintbrushes and other wildflowers blooming in all of God's majesty. The spring flowers have faded now, and in their place are those pesky little mosquitos.

Last year brought light to a species of mosquitoes and the frightening advent of the Zika virus, moving out of Africa and Southeast Asia towards South and Central America. It is important to note that although there have been small numbers of the Aedes mosquitos detected in southern states, there are currently no locally acquired vector-borne cases in the U.S. And the same mosquitoes that carry Zika, also carry the dengue and chikungunya viruses that we've heard about in past years. There are cases of Zika that have been diagnosed in the U.S. but have occurred from a person traveling to one of the areas previously mentioned and re-entering the country.

What we know about Zika is still evolving, but what we do know is that there has been a surge of microcephaly – a condition in which a baby's head is abnormally small due to abnormal brain development – in infants born to mothers who live or traveled in the aforementioned areas. There have also been cases in the U.S. linked to sexual transmission. New information also indicates that there may be a connection between contracting Zika and Guillan-Barre syndrome, a rare illness affecting a person's nervous system.

Zika is spread as the female Aedes mosquito bites an infected person, then goes on to bite another person where it is believed the virus is thereby transferred. These mosquitoes are aggressive, biting at all hours of the day. They like ankles and elbows, especially during the day. As with most things, simple steps can reduce or eliminate risks from biting insects. Prevention and avoidance are important. With our previous blessed rainfall, standing water is a bountiful breeding ground for mosquitos. Remember to empty containers of standing water frequently, even small ones. Pet water dishes, flower pot trays, old tires or other objects in the yard are favorite places for mosquitoes to lay eggs. Using an insect repellent is imperative in preventing mosquito bites, just make sure to read and follow the directions carefully and reapply as recommended. If you will be using both sunscreen and an insect repellent, apply the sunscreen first.

I encourage everyone to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website; there is a wealth of information available on the Zika virus: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html. Zika has been around in other countries since 1947, so the fact that we're just now seeing cases closer to home is surprising. The more we read and learn, the better we're equipped to deal with this virus. Until next time, be well and be blessed.

Rhonda Hunnicutt, RN, is a Wesley Nurse with Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc. Methodist Healthcare Ministries' Wesley Nurse program is a faith-based, holistic health and wellness program committed to serving the least-served through education, health promotion and collaboration with individuals and communities to achieve improved wellness through self-empowerment. Learn more at www.mhm.org/programs/health-ministries

Wesley Nurses Present at Church Health Center’s Westberg Symposium

Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc. recently supported the Church Health Center's 30th annual Westberg Symposium, which exhibited two poster presentations by Methodist Healthcare Ministries' Wesley Nurses. Faith-based community nurses from all over the country convened in Chicago April 7-10 to cover areas such as theology, clinical pastoral education and whole person health care.

"We're proud to have taken part in the Westberg Symposium," said Jennifer Knoulton, director of nursing at Methodist Healthcare Ministries. "At Methodist Healthcare Ministries, we have adopted a faith-based community nursing approach to health ministry, carried out through our Wesley Nurse Program, which now spans 80 sites throughout South Texas."

Knoulton co-presented at the pre-conference session with a colleague from the Church Health Center. She spoke on the importance of helping faith community nurses incorporate asset-based community development (ABCD) into their practice, a strategy for sustainable community-driven development concerned with how to link micro-assets to the macro-environment. The premise of ABCD is that communities can drive the development process themselves by identifying existing, but often unrecognized assets, and thereby responding to and creating local economic opportunity. ABCD builds on the assets that are already found in the community and mobilizes individuals, associations, and institutions to come together to build on their assets, not concentrate on their needs, to begin to use what is already in the community. View presentation.

Wesley Nurses Cynthia Bishop, RN, BSN, MACM, and Angela Gonzalez, RN presented on preceptor-guided preparation for Wesley Nurse faith community nurses. They discussed that the Wesley Nurse program began using the faith community nurse model almost 20 years ago and that Wesley Nurses have shown great fortitude as they have adapted to ongoing changes in this specialized profession. Their poster presentation reflected the development of a preceptor-guided orientation tool that incorporates the competencies outlined in the American Nurses Association's Scope and Standards of Practice. View presentation.

Wesley Nurse Patricia Cisneros, RN, BSN demonstrated how the faith community nurse can advocate, facilitate, and coordinate resources for the least-served and bring awareness to rally the support of other nonprofits to assist in humanitarian relief. Her presentation, Finding A Way: Laredo Humanitarian Relief Team, discussed how the efforts of asset-based community development (ABCD) helped an ecumenical set of community partners show persistence despite not getting help from local officials to collaborate to provide humanitarian relief for travelers in a mass migration of women and children fleeing violence in their country. View presentation.

The Westberg Symposium focused on the ways faith-based community nurses make their mission more resilient through continuing to explore relationships between faith and health in their lives and ministries.

"From a primary care perspective, faith-based nurses like our Wesley Nurses, are instrumental in connecting people, congregations and community members to health and wellness," said Knoulton.

According to the Church Health Center – a faith-based nonprofit that provides affordable health care to working uninsured people – resilience in faith community nursing sustains belief in a better way of caring for people. Whether the need is for basic health education for a new diagnosis, or advocacy and support during a major life transition, faith community nurses foster strength in members of the faith community or the wider community.

To learn more about the Westberg Symposium, visit http://www.churchhealthcenter.org/westberg2016. To learn more about the Wesley Nurse program, visit http://www.mhm.org/programs/health-ministries

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness month, and is a subject close to me, as I have lost two aunts to this disease. It is such a horrible illness to go through, and yet, in so many cases, preventable. With a number of ways to screen for colorectal cancer, we should be seeing a decrease in the number of cases or deaths.

I will be quite honest, as a nurse and a patient, I can say it is no lie when you hear someone say that the colonoscopy 'prep' is the worst part. But, it is temporary. There are preparations now that aren't nearly so bad as early preps. Talk with your doctor about which one is best for you. But by all means, please talk to your doctor about getting a colon screening if you are 50 or over, or earlier if you have a close relative with colorectal polyps or cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease or other genetic syndromes. Truly, most people have no recollection of the colonoscopy procedure due to the medications administered.

Colorectal cancer is non-discriminatory; it affects men and women, especially age 50 and over. In fact, it is the cancer with the second highest mortality rate in the United States! But it is sneaky… many colorectal cancers can start from a polyp that develops into cancer over time. There may be no symptoms in the early stages, be it from an early colorectal cancer or from the precancerous polyps. But with the screenings, these polyps can be removed before they cause problems. Though these symptoms may be caused by other illnesses, some things to watch for are unexplained weight loss, blood in/on stool with bowel movement, persistent abdominal aches, pains or cramps.

The type of testing or screening and frequency of testing varies, and insurance coverage varies as well. There may be assistance available to those who are not able to afford the screening.

What I can tell you with all certainty is that I would much rather go through a little discomfort with the preparation and get past the feeling of embarrassment of the procedure than the devastation of people's lives and that of their families from this terrible disease, especially since, in most cases, colorectal cancer is so preventable. So please, I can't ask you enough to talk with your doctor about screening options. For more information on colorectal screening, visit www.cdc.gov/screenforlife

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Jaime Wesoloski

President & Chief Executive Officer

Jaime Wesolowski is the President and Chief Executive Officer at Methodist Healthcare Ministries. A healthcare executive with three decades of leadership experience, Jaime is responsible for the overall governance and direction of Methodist Healthcare Ministries. Jaime earned his Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration from Xavier University, and his Bachelor’s of Science from Indiana University in Healthcare Administration. As a cancer survivor, Jaime is a staunch supporter of the American Cancer Society. He serves as Chair of the American Cancer Society’s South Texas Area board of directors and he was appointed as Chair to the recently created South Region Advisory Cabinet, covering eight states from Arizona through Alabama. Jaime believes his personal experience as a cancer survivor has given him more defined insight and compassion to the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of patients and their families.