Last updated: January 09. 2014 3:33PM - 831 Views
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WINSTON-SALEM — A grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust in Winston-Salem will help Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center expand FaithHealthNC, a faith-based program, into 11 North Carolina counties, including Surry County.

The $477,499 grant will be used to expand FaithHealthNC into Alleghany, Ashe, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Davidson, Forsyth, McDowell, Rockingham, Surry, and Wilkes counties.

FaithHealthNC connects faith congregations with care providers, “in an effort to help people navigate the health care system,” according to their website. According to a press released issued by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center last week, FaithHealthNC’s goal is “to improve the health of people in their communities.”

The funds will be used to help identify and train community members — such as hospital chaplains and denominational, social service and public health leaders — who will help implement the FaithHealthNC program in their counties. Individuals who receive training will assist the counties in connecting faith-based organizations, community resources and local health care providers.

“While the concept of our FaithHealth program is compelling, the actual construction of the needed community networks requires art, skill and highly localized help to ensure they succeed,” said Gary Gunderson, vice president of faith and health ministries for Wake Forest Baptist.

“Local groups and institutions will need on-the-ground assistance from faith-health specialists who are trained, knowledgeable and available for an extended period of time. We are very grateful for this funding, which will help pay for those costs and help get this program moving in our region.”

FaithHealthNC was launched last year “to improve health by forging covenants between faith communities and health care providers.” Once the initiative is in place, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center will provide health care liaisons to “help clergy and faith community volunteers work to ensure that member needs are met during times of illness,” according to the press release.

Gunderson built a similar model of “congregational partnerships” that connected the providers of health and social services with religious congregations that, according to Gunderson, are often the first points of contact for an individual in distress. FaithHealthNC is adapting this model to smaller towns and rural areas of North Carolina, including Surry County.

The FaithHealthNC initiative focuses on four groups of individuals, considered “highly vulnerable” by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center: isolated elders, individuals living with early onset chronic conditions, women and their children, and those living with unattended mental and behavioral health conditions.

For more information about FaithHealthNC, visit faithhealthnc.org. Already established locations for the initiative include the Winston-Salem area, Lexington, and Wilkes County. According to the website, clergy or lay leaders of congregations may contact Rev. Chris Gambill at 716-0459 or email cgambill@wakehealth.org for more information about joining FaithHealthNC. The partnership is open to all faith communities as well as other community organizations and the services of FaithHealthNC are free to congregations and their clergy.

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