2018-03-14 / Local

Nursing the mind, body, and spirit

By Gregory Ripps
Wilson County News

Wilson County Wesley Nurse Kathy Brown sets up a display for one of several health-education programs in which she participates. 
GREGORY RIPPS/Reprints at Wilson County Wesley Nurse Kathy Brown sets up a display for one of several health-education programs in which she participates. GREGORY RIPPS/Reprints at “Our goal is to improve health outcomes. Part of that is to help our patients become more spiritually connected.”

Kathy Brown, R.N., was describing her mission as Wilson County’s Wesley Nurse.

She has an office at El Mesias United Methodist Church in Floresville and can usually be found there on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Visitors generally avail themselves of the free information services of a Wesley Nurse because of health problems, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, but there may be more that ails them.

Brown emphasized that Wesley Nurses take a holistic approach to educating people about health, addressing an individual’s mind, body, and spirit.

“Sometimes [the spiritual aspect] is the biggest part [of addressing health problems],” she said. “Sometimes you have to deal with spiritual problems first.”

A spiritual assessment is part of the initial visit.

“I ask questions and listen to their answers to find out where they are,” she explained. “I want to get them to tell me what’s going on.”

Sometimes there is one visit, sometimes several. Sometimes she refers visitors to a pastor who can offer spiritual help.

A Wesley Nurse’s assistance to visitors doesn’t stop there.

Help with meds

“They may need assistance to obtain a prescribed medication,” Brown said, adding that she often can help people find a medication at a much lower cost:

•Through retailers such as H-E-B or Walmart

•By contacting the physician and obtaining an alternate prescription that is not so expensive or, occasionally, free samples of the medication

•Through nonprofit organizations, such as NeedyMeds, that provide information to obtain more affordable medications.

When paperwork or transportation is involved, Brown helps with that, too.

Depending on a visitor’s needs, she may schedule weekly or monthly appointments “to see how they’re doing.”

She enjoys seeing people “get their lives together,” making progress in mind, body, and spirit.

“It’s awesome to see that happen,” she said, noting that when people strengthen the spiritual aspect of their lives, “other things don’t seem so hard anymore.”

At some point, the visits become unnecessary.

“I tell them, ‘You don’t need an appointment anymore, but you are welcome to come and see me,’” she said.

Health programs

When Brown isn’t in her office, she is involved in a number of public programs promoting healthy lifestyles, including:

•Diabetes education classes, presented in conjunction with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Texas Department of Health, and Connally Memorial Medical Center

•Health screening and education at the Wilson County Community Health Center and the Floresville Food Pantry

•The My Healthy Child program, which offers monthly parenting classes — and diapers from the Texas Diaper Bank in San Antonio.

Medical career

Brown began her medical career as a medical corpsman in the Navy during the 1990s. She became a licensed vocational nurse in 2001 and a registered nurse in 2006.

She was working at Christus Santa Rosa Medical Center in San Antonio when she decided to become a Wesley Nurse.

“I was looking for something different,” she said. “This just seemed to fit.”

To become a Wesley Nurse, Brown underwent additional training and obtained certification in faith community nursing from the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Although the job requires working some evenings and weekends, the schedule leaves time for Brown to spend with her family.

She has lived in Floresville since she married; her husband was born and reared there. Their son graduated from Floresville High School in 2017, and their daughter is scheduled to graduate this spring.

Brown, after six years as a Wesley Nurse, hasn’t regretted her decision.

“It’s something I love to do,” she said.

Wesley Nurses

A Wesley Nurse helps individuals and communities improve their health and wellness through self-empowerment and access to health-care resources and information.

The Wesley Nurse program spans more than 80 sites throughout South Texas and is Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc.’s largest geographic outreach program.

The nursing practice of the Wesley Nurse draws its heritage from the roots of nursing, which evolved from the early church and the concept of Shalom, which is wholeness, completeness, contentment, and peace.

Wesley Nurses provide care to uninsured and at-risk individuals. They document what takes place in the lives of their patients, track outcomes, plan programs to address education needs of a population, and develop relationships with people in the community.

While the Wesley Nurse program is a component of Methodist Healthcare Ministries’ outreach and is usually located within churches, it does not teach a set of denominational beliefs. All Wesley Nurse programs are free, and are offered to groups or on an individual basis.

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