United Church of Christ

Mind Body Spirit - September-October 2020

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Mind, Body, Spirit: Linking Lives for Health and Wholeness
The Wellness Ministries of the UCC Newsletter
(formerly The Faith Community Nurse Health Ministry Newsletter)


September-October 2020, Vol. 5 Issue 6


REFLECTION:

01_rockingchairs.jpg"September days have the warmth of summer in their briefer hours, but in their lengthening evenings a prophetic breath of autumn.

-  Rowland E. Robinson 

 

THE  COVID-19 PANDEMIC:
It has now been 6 months of living during a pandemic.  Everyone seems to be feeling the strain of months of life being altered in every direction.  Working from home, Zoom meetings, virtual church, once-a-week grocery shopping, take-out food orders, missed weddings, drive-by birthday parties, family-limited funerals.  Social distancing has taken away gatherings with family and friends, visits to gyms, exploring museums, summer trips.  Many of us have lost track of time and find ourselves wondering which day of the week it is.  The CDC offers tips for coping during the pandemic.  Here are some healthy ways to cope with stress. 

  • Take care of your emotional health. Taking care of your emotional health will help you think clearly and react to the urgent needs to protect yourself and your family.
  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
  • Connect with your community or faith-based organizations. While social distancing measures are in place, consider connecting online, through social media, or by phone or mail.

Return to School: 
Parents and school leaders are very eager for schools to reopen, but understandably concerned about the health and safety of their children during the COVID-19 pandemic.   School officials should make decisions about school reopening based on available data including levels of community transmission and their capacity to implement appropriate mitigation measures in schools to protect students, teachers, administrators, and other staff. The CDC provides resources related  to Operating Schools During COVID-19. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that having children in school will only be safe when a community has the spread of the virus under control.   Their Healthy Children website has information about returning to school

Many school districts will continue to conduct distance learning this autumn.  Tips for parents to keep children focused, interested, and balanced while learning are offered by Common Sense EducationUSA Today also has posted tips for home teaching as well as return to school facilities during the pandemic.

Revisiting Use of Masks:
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, a key method of preventing spread of infection is the use of face masks. Education on masks can include the benefits of mask-wearing, proper use of masks, care/cleaning of masks, and disposal of paper masks. 

02_MaskUp.jpgThe American Medical Association has started a campaign called Mask Up: Stop the spread of COVID-19.  You can use the images from their campaign toolkit to share on social media. Here is one example:                                                                                   

Johns-Hopkins Medicine offers:

  1. infographic on How to Properly Wear a Face Mask
  2. how to care for purchased or hand-made masks 

Revisiting Handwashing:
Hand washing is a critical intervention in stopping the spread of infection.  The gold standard involves scrubbing your hands thoroughly with soap and clean water for at least 20 seconds. Washing with soap is effective since the soap molecules make the insoluble viral molecules easily soluble in water and rinsed off of your hands and down your drain.   It takes time to clean all the surfaces of hands effectively.  One suggestion offered by the CDC is to sing the Happy Birthday song while you scrub with soap to help time the 20 second duration. 

Here is another helpful way to do effective hand washing, contributed by Debbie Ringen, Transitional Minister for Health and Wellness Southern New England UCC Conference:

Make Handwashing a Time of Prayer: Washing our hands for 20 seconds is one of the ways to reduce the spread of the COVID virus.  How long is 20 seconds?   That is sometimes hard to track.  However, there is a way that combines adequate handwashing and praising God.  The Doxology that we sing during worship, (it starts with “Praise God from whom all blessings flow….) takes approximately 20 seconds to sing.   By choosing to sing the Doxology each time we wash our hands we mentally shift our focus from the challenge of living within a pandemic to thoughts of gratitude and the blessings God has bestowed.  Focusing on these positives in the midst of our challenges improves our health and wellbeing.  Thanks be to God.  For further explanation and a demonstration go to this video.   

Social Distancing:
“Social distancing” was a term that was used earlier in the pandemic as many people stayed home to help prevent spread of the virus. Now as communities are reopening and people are in public more often, “physical distancing” is used to stress the importance of maintaining a six-foot physical space when in public areas.  How far apart is 6 feet?  Here’s a fun way to illustrate this distance using common objects as examples. 

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Contact Tracing:
If you've been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you may be contacted by a contact tracer or public health worker from your state or local health department in an effort to help slow the spread of the disease.  Legitimate contact tracers will never ask for your Medicare Number or financial information.  The CDC offers information about contact tracing.

Prescription information:
Medicare has offered tips to protect yourself from COVID-19 when getting your prescriptions during the pandemic:

  • If possible, call in prescription orders ahead of time.
  • Use drive-thru windows, curbside services, mail-order, or other delivery services.
  • Try to make one trip, picking up all medicine at the same time.
  • If you go into the pharmacy, remember to wear a face covering and maintain physical distance.

You can contact your Medicare prescription drug plan to see if they have temporarily waived certain requirements to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 — like waiving prescription refill limits or relaxing restrictions on home delivery or mail delivery of prescription drugs. You can also ask your Medicare drug plan about extended-day supplies.


HEALTH PROGRAMMING AND OBSERVATION DATES:

September:

National Preparedness Month:  
Preparation for natural disasters is always a relevant health ministries educational and procedural response topic.  The Red Cross offers an  Emergency Preparedness Checklist.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also encourages and reminds Americans to be prepared for disasters or emergencies in their homes, businesses, and communities.  The EPA site on  natural disasters includes Information on preparing for hurricanes and recovering after hurricanes and flooding.

Flu Season 2019: 
04_FluShots.jpgIt is time to talk about flu immunization and receive a vaccination.  Public health officials are pushing to vaccinate 65% of American adults against the flu this influenza season. This is 25 percentage points higher coverage than a typical year.  The goal: to reduce an onslaught of patients with flu from descending on the health care system at the same time COVID-19 patients continue to seek care.

The CDC offers a variety of educational information about vaccines and the diseases they prevent. For each vaccine, you can access information about who should receive the vaccine, when it should be administered, and what patients or parents should know about it.   Resources are available in various formats—flyers, fact sheets, posters, videos, web buttons—and includes links to other useful websites. A link on this site connects to vaccination materials in Spanish.  CDC materials can be downloaded, copied, and distributed to patients. 

Influenza and pneumonia vaccination may be protective against the development of Alzheimer disease (AD) in older patients, according to two new research studies presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2020 in Chicago, Illinois.

October:
Here are links for October programming. 

Domestic Violence Awareness Month:  
The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence website provides a comprehensive source of information. 

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: 
The American Cancer Society dedicates the month of October to raising awareness about the benefits of finding and treating breast cancer early. Information can also be found at National Breast Cancer Foundation website. 


NOVEMBER ELECTION:

05_I_Voted.jpgBecause of COVID-19, many people, especially in areas with high rates of infection, are concerned about going to voting sites which may be crowded.  Check with your state’s Board of Elections for information about mail-in Absentee ballots.  It is also advised to check for locations of voting sites as some sites may have been closed because of smaller numbers of volunteers. 

Steps to assure your vote counts:

  1. Check Your Voter Registration Status.
  2. Mail-In or Absentee Voting – some states will be mailing a mail-in ballot to every registered voter; in other states, you will have to request a mail-in ballot.
  3. Pay attention to deadlines for submitting mail-in ballots and also know where you can put your ballot in a drop-off box.
  4. Consider early in-person voting. You may be able to vote at a time when there are only a few others at the site.
  5. If voting on election day, avoid the peak times and the last hour’s rush. Bring your own black pen (or if your precinct uses electronic voting machines, a stylus) so you do not have to use one that has been touched by other voters.  Review a sample ballot in advance (which you can do through your local election office’s website) so you can vote and depart quickly. 

THIS MONTH’S WELLNESS MINISTRIES MOMENT . . .

Deborah Ringen, Transitional Minister for Health and Wellness Southern New England UCC Conference:

Did you know that 90% of the American Red Cross workforce is volunteer? During the coronavirus pandemic, many volunteers had to step away because they are in the vulnerable population. This has created an urgent need for volunteer Facility Screeners and Blood Donor ambassadors for community blood drives. Volunteers in these positions may welcome donors, check temperatures, get donors registered and monitor the refreshment table. Volunteers are an essential part of every successful blood drive.

As a faith community nurse (FCN), and an American Red Cross Blood Donor Ambassador, I have experienced the compassion and caring each and every Red Cross staff person and blood donor brings to the donation site. Although the volunteer position does not require a healthcare professional, FCN’s excel at creating a compassionate presence, putting people at ease, and maintaining infection control measures! The shift is usually 5-6 hours. Training and personal protective equipment is provided by the American Red Cross.

Is your fellowship hall sitting vacant right now? In many states faith community facilities serve as blood donation sites. All that is needed is a large open space where the Red Cross can set up the assessment and donation areas. The host site assists with publicizing the event and benefits from community outreach recognition.  We have hosted blood drives at our church in Connecticut for many years.  Church and community members rely on us to make their donations easy and pleasant right in their neighborhood. Donors feel comfortable and look forward to the welcoming smiles of the volunteers and staff.  Before coronavirus, donors sought out their favorite cookies and sandwiches prepared by the congregation (now the Red Cross provides prepackaged snacks for safety). Most importantly, patients receive the lifesaving blood they need.

There is an urgent need for blood and platelet donations due to the Coronavirus.  Donors are screened for fever and exposure to COVID-19 and strict infection control procedures are followed to keep donors, volunteers, and staff safe! Make an appointment near you at www.redcrossblood.org.   If you are interested in hosting a blood drive find out more at Why Host a Blood Drive. Help save a life today!


UCC OVERDOSE AND DRUG USE MINISTRIES:

In the U.S., almost 200 people a day die from a drug overdose, 130 of those from an opioid overdose. That is 70,000 people a year dying in a largely preventable crisis. The UCC Overdose & Drug Use Ministries (ODUM) Project brings together pastors, lay leaders, theologians, service providers, people with lived experience of substance use, activists and other collaborators in order to advocate for and increase the engagement of local churches in ministries with our neighbors who:

  • use drugs,
  • live with or are personally affected by drug use, including opioids, or
  • may be at risk for or have experienced incidents of overdose.

Centering the voices of people with lived experience, including women and people of color, the project focuses its work on building the capacity of local churches and providing resources to engage in overdose and drug use ministries in their community, with particular attention to the intersections of stigma, trauma, drug use, faith, and spirituality. We do this by:

  • developing educational resources and practical guides, including a toolkit,
  • building leadership capacity in our conferences, associations, and churches to respond to the epidemic in their community, and
  • offering strategies and resources for local, statewide, and national corporate and public policy advocacy.

Learn more about ODUM and how we can support you and your congregation in learning more about opportunities to deepen health and wholeness for communities impacted by substance use and overdose. You may also email ODUM Project Coordinator, Erica Poellot at poellote@ucc.org

Professional Practice:

Call for Public Comments:
The American Nurses Association has posted the Draft Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice, Fourth Edition. online for a period of public review.   The working group has revised the definition of nursing, extensively reorganized the scope of practice statement and included a new representation of the nursing process and two new models, added new Standard 8 Advocacy and its accompanying competencies, and reordered the Standards of Professional Performance. 

Nurses are asked to provide comments and recommendations during the recently opened public comment period by the closing date of September 16, 2020.  You may access the draft document here.


KEEP CONNECTED:

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Post comments or share information about your health ministries; join in conversations.

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Previous issues of the newsletter
Use previous year’s monthly newsletters to aid your search for links to resources on health ministries and wellness topics:

Contact us:

  • Have something you want to share with your colleagues?
  • Are you looking for something to assist you in your ministry? 
  • Interested in joining the Leadership Team for the Wellness Ministries of the UCC?

Let us hear from you.

Contact:
Alyson Breisch
, Editor

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