UU Church Today, Practice & Voice

Parish Nurses: More than Meets the Eye

All Souls Parish Nurses work behind the scenes to improve life for our members and the community at large. Coming from a variety of backgrounds, they use their professional expertise and personal experiences to provide crucial services, from tending to protesters at last year’s “We Can’t Breathe” march, to assisting All Souls members with major life decisions.

Being a Parish Nurse is a commitment.

The call to become a Parish Nurse is one that’s well worth the time.

Parish Nurses must complete a two-week training course in Oklahoma City and become members of the Faith Community Nurses Association of Oklahoma (FCNA – OK), and have an up-to-date RN license. While serving as a full-time Parish Nurse may be best suited to those who are retired, part-time nurses are also needed.

“Nurses who are still working could donate an hour a week, or just be a resource,” says Parish Nurse, Lynne Burson. “There might be nurses out there that are 100% motivated and could do it while they’re still working. We’d be happy for another member, for sure.”

The Love Beyond Belief attitude.

Lynne was recently appointed to the Board of the FCNA – OK, where she is the only Unitarian member. “When I joined, they really didn’t know what to do with me,” Lynne says. “They didn’t understand what a Unitarian was, or why a humanist would actually want to be there. But that obviously changed, since the board asked me to be one of their members. I guess something I brought to it, maybe some Love Beyond Belief attitude.”

A new experience for the Parish Nurse team was last summer’s creation of a Medical Response Team to provide services to protesters involved in the May 31 “We Can’t Breathe” march. The team consisted of three nurses, three physicians, and numerous lay leaders. “My hopes were that we could keep people safe and healthy, and that we could provide a safety net for people that were going to be out in the crowds, so that they would feel like someone had their backs. If they did need us for anything, I hoped that we would have the resources and the people there to meet those needs. First, to give them a sense of safety, a circle of safety, and then to provide it if necessary,” says Lynne.

Add Street Med to a Parish Nurse’s Street Cred.

Lynne would like for more lay leaders to be trained as a street med. She says, “It’s not that big a time commitment, and the way that you get trained is so fascinating. [The training can] really help in all areas of life. You go hiking or camping or you do anything with families, at the beach, or anywhere – these skills could be applied to a wide range of mishaps that can happen.”

Parish Nurses help in less public, but equally important ways.

Dee Copeland tells of helping one member solve a medication mix-up, of guiding members dealing with substance abuse issues, and of helping families who needed assistance placing loved ones into care facilities. “We took tours of different nursing homes to see what they were like, then we would make recommendations to the member,” Dee says. “Sometimes we would go with them.”

Dee became a Parish Nurse in 2011, shortly after joining All Souls following the death of her husband. “The first time I went on a Sunday, I walked into Emerson Hall, and Sally Pearcy was standing right there having coffee with Barbara Jenkins, and she rushed over to me and said, ‘Oh, Dee, you’re a member now, so you can be a Parish Nurse!’ So I said sure, I’ll sign up. Of course, I had no idea what I was getting into, but I knew it was all good.”

Professional nurses of all backgrounds needed.

Dee continues, “We get involved in all kinds of different situations that you wouldn’t think about ahead of time. We try to just be flexible to serve whatever the need is. It’s all very rewarding, because people are very thankful – not that we’re looking for a thanks, but they’re appreciative of anything we can do to help them.”

If you’d like to join Lynne and Dee as a Parish Nurse, please email parishnurses@allsoulschurch.org. Professional nurses of all backgrounds are needed and welcomed. Lynne says, “Between me and Dee, our experience seems like it’s so different, so we’re bringing different kinds of expertise into it.”

“It wouldn’t work if we were all from the same background, and had the same experiences,” says Dee.

Lynne Burson worked as a nurse for 44 years and as a Nurse-Midwife/Advanced Practice Nurse for 24 of those years. She worked in the operating room, recovery room, medical offices and labor and delivery, postpartum, high risk antepartum and as a Research Nurse. Lynn joined the Parish Nurse Team in 2019. Watch our interview with Lynne, along with Carlos Moreno and Corey Smith, about why they chose to participate with the Medical Response Team!

Born in Seminole, Oklahoma, Dee Copeland moved several times throughout her youth before choosing Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing in the Pittsburgh University Medical Center, where Dr. Jonas Salk discovered the polio vaccine, for her nurses training program. After graduation in 1963, she flew to Tulsa to begin working at Saint Francis Hospital. Most of her 30 years at Saint Francis was spent in Epidemiology/Infection Control. At age 57, she took early retirement and never looked back. Dee joined All Souls in April, 2011, and was invited to join the Care Team and Parish Nurses. She is eagerly looking forward to new adventures, continuing her mother’s genealogy research and enjoying life with all her family, including her 13 year old cockapoo, Sassy!

Parish Nurses promote optimum health management of church members and their families by integrating spirituality with health education, counseling, referrals, and advocacy. Parish Nurses do not provide “hands on” acute or medical care.

Not a nurse, but want to help? Join our Care Team! The Care Team provides consistent and reliable pastoral care supporting our members spiritually and emotionally, 24/7. To volunteer with one of our pastoral care teams or for more information, email pastoralcare@allsoulschurch.org.

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