Memphis, TN has the unfortunate distinction of being the poorest metropolitan area in the country, according to data from the United States Census. Additionally, lack of income is compounded by unwise lifestyle choices and difficulty in accessing healthcare. The state’s governor has launched an initiative appropriately called “Healthier Tennessee,” but assistance is also coming from another source: Churches.
Medical Outreach to Congregation Members
The Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare System is the largest health provider in Memphis, and it has found success by creating the Congregational Health Network, or CHN. According to the hospital’s website, the CHN is fueled by more than five hundred area churches that have become committed to partnering with the hospital to make sure congregation members understand how to receive necessary care. The goal is to blend science with faith, so that each facet relies on the other to educate churchgoers.
Two Tiers of Team Members
A group of people called “navigators” are partially responsible for making the program run smoothly. They are paid hospital employees tasked with ensuring there’s a consistent quality of care given at each participating congregation. Another group of individuals called “liaisons” supplement that role by voluntarily finding people in their respective churches and filling them in about what sorts of services are available to people in need of health treatments or guidance. According to an article published by Fierce Healthcare, the second group of people have a twofold role that involves promoting overall health at respective churches, and also specifically reaching out to people who are ailing.
An Emotional Safety Net During Frightening Times
The CHN works on the concept that when a person requires hospital care, he or she may be feeling uncertain and unaware of where to turn for help. In some cases, that kind of isolation may mean a person avoids seeking healthcare at all. However, once someone gets linked up with a person involved in CHN, he or she will receive a membership card designed to be presented at the hospital, much like proof of insurance. That action kicks off events designed to support the ill person during all stages of recovery. One includes letting a church’s liaison and congregation members know about the illness so they can pray for a full and efficient recovery, visit the person in the hospital and support him or her through the challenging emotions that often spring up when a someone is sick.
After a person is discharged, someone from the CHN will meet up with her to discuss the next steps. Sometimes that might mean outlining the correct home care strategies so each step of the process is easy to understand. In other cases, the CHN may have existing resources that align with a person’s particular need and a navigator or liaison team member can explain how to benefit from them.
A Noticeable Impact
An article published by Salon says that so far, more than 16,000 people have signed up for the CHN. In addition, the CHN program costs about one million dollars to run per year yet saves the hospital about four times that amount. Perhaps most significant is the change in patient statistics related to the number of days spent out of the hospital after a discharge. On average, CHN members spend 426 days out of the hospital, whereas that number decreases to 306 for non-members.
Since many of the CHN volunteers are around the same ages as the congregation members they help, and may even be facing similar health issues, it makes sense why the CHN program could have a powerful influence upon the wellbeing of Memphis residents, especially as time passes and more people become aware of the program.
Brett Harris writes blogs for several healthcare institutes to promote awareness of available services. A Top 10 online masters in healthcare administration degree can get you into a career in great demand.