Davenport health ministers tend to physical, spiritual needs


By Anne Marie Amacher

Bonnie Beyhl, left, health advocate and Carol Burns, parish nurse, discuss upcoming appointments. Both work for Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport on a part-time basis.

DAVENPORT — Taking care of mind, body and spirit is an important part of the parish nurse and trained health minister program.
At Our Lady of Victory Parish, parishioners are served by parish nurse Carol Burns and trained health minister Bonnie Beyhl. Beyhl’s title is health advocate. Both began their positions in June.
Our Lady of Victory has had a parish nurse program in place for years, but the two positions opened up at a time when Burns and Beyhl were looking for their next call to ministry. Both have completed training for their positions.
They work about eight hours a week for a total of 32 hours a month and have paid positions through the parish. “We set our own schedules,” Burns said. “We could easily work 40 hours a week each,” she added.
Burns is a retired nurse who worked in the operating room for years. After her retirement in 2010 she enjoyed her free time, but felt she was missing something. And her children knew it, too. When an advertisement for parish nurse appeared in the parish bulletin, “I knew it was the perfect job for me.”
She attended the parish nurse program through Genesis Health Systems.
Beyhl is currently employed as an occupational therapist, along with several other small jobs. She felt a call to the parish’s need for health ministry and completed her training for trained health minister in the Foundations in Faith Community Nursing Course, through Genesis.
Jennifer Hildebrand, coordinator of health ministry with Genesis, said parish nurses and trained health ministers provide holistic care, address spiritual needs, are listeners and can help find community resources for parishioners’ needs. They do not perform hands-on work with parishioners. They are allowed to take blood pressure readings. Beyhl can do most everything that Burns can do, except provide assessments.
They also visit the sick and homebound, among a myriad of activities. Burns has visited new moms and their babies. She and Beyhl send birth, sympathy and get-well cards and include their business cards to let people know they are available for visits or resources.
“It’s as big a job as you make it,” Burns said.
Beyhl writes a wellness column in the weekly parish bulletin. She also serves on the wellness committee and teamed up with the faith formation department. Working with faith formation, the wellness committee is helping to encourage spirituality, prayer and evangelization in people’s homes through such tools as Matthew Kelly’s book “Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic.” A discussion group talks about a chapter of the book each month. “This addresses the mind and spirit part of the ministry,” Beyhl said.
Both Burns and Beyhl said they appreciate the communication line they have with the pastor, Msgr. James Parizek. They meet weekly to talk about what they have done and what they plan to do. They also keep him posted by email. “Sometimes we ask him to visit a parishioner. Other times he asks us to visit one,” Beyhl said. On Sept. 17 they met with Hildebrand to brainstorm additional ideas.
In the parish’s fall newsletter, Msgr. Parizek said, “Our wellness committee and parish nurse and health advocate are performing wonderful services to enhance the vitality of our members. They really mean it when they ask, ‘How are you?’”

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