Baptist Health launches Congregational Network for Healthcare

baptist health congregational(Paducah, Ky.) Baptist Health Paducah has launched a new initiative to improve the health of our community by partnering with local churches. The Congregational Network for Healthcare aims to provide a continuity of care to patients after they leave the hospital with the help of volunteers representing congregations throughout the region.

The nondenominational program is modeled after the nationally-acclaimed Congregational Health Network at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, Memphis’s largest hospital system. Baptist Health Paducah is the first hospital to initiate the program in the Baptist Health system.

Pastors are invited to learn more about the free program at informational meetings set for 10 to 11:30 a.m. or 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, in the Baptist Heart Center auditorium. Pastoral Care director James Wright will lead the meetings and introduce the program’s chaplain navigator Rick Johnson and nurse navigator Ruthanne Cockrell, RN.

Johnson has served in full-time ministry in Kentucky and Tennessee for more than 30 years. Besides working in the pastoral care department at Baptist, he also oversees the volunteer chaplaincy program at Marshall County Hospital. He is a graduate of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he is currently studying for a Master of Divinity degree.

“I am excited about the possibilities for this program because it provides a framework for the church congregations and leaders to minister to their members, provide outreach and utilize community resources,” Johnson said.

Cockrell has worked as a nurse at Baptist Health Paducah since 1988, including more than 20 years in outpatient surgery. She is an active member of Heartland Worship Center.

“I am so excited about this program because it will help fill a gap in the continuum of quality care after a patient’s discharge and foster relationships with congregations that will initiate and promote holistic healthy lifestyles,” she said. “I have always viewed nursing as a profession to which we are ‘called’ and I am blessed to have this opportunity to integrate my experience and knowledge into a service of ministry.”

The program is meant to help pastors minister to their congregations and surrounding community. Pastors will be asked to choose liaisons from their congregation to be trained by the hospital’s pastoral care staff. Liaisons will then sign up willing church members for the network. In case of hospitalization, the hospital navigators will connect with liaisons and members to confidentially assess needs, make appropriate referrals and coordinate services for hospital aftercare.

“This program is a natural extension of our mission of demonstrating the love of Christ by providing and coordinating care and improving health in our communities,” said William A. Brown, Baptist Health Paducah president. “This is just another way we can improve the lives of the people we are privileged to serve.”

To attend one of the informational meetings, please RSVP at 270.415.7695.

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