New Head of Parish Nurse Ministry in Shepherdstown Will Build Upon Existing ‘Rich and Full’ Program

By Colleen Rowan SHEPHERDSTOWN—The new head of the parish nursing ministry at St. Agnes Parish in Shepherdstown wants to build upon the great work that has already been accomplish- ed. In a letter to parishioners published in the July 11 parish bulletin, Gabriele Davis, BSN, RN, announced that Parish Nursing Director Barbara Mueller passed the ministry on to her. “The Covid-19 pandemic shut down of our churches included the parish nursing program,” Davis said. “Now that the churches are opening again with fewer restrictions, we plan to restart taking blood pressures and blood sugars every second weekend of the month beginning in August. To support the parish nursing program, Davis announced that the ministry will welcome volunteers in the health field to help with taking blood pressures and blood sugars, writing articles and future health-oriented programs “as we get back up and running.” Davis also said the parish website is being revamped and will once again have parish nursing information. “You will also be able to find information on the parish Facebook page,” she said. Starting in August, she said, copies of the Parish Health Newsletter can be found in the narthex of the church. In her letter, Davis thanked Mueller and Lynn Dunlevy, BSN, RN, who started the parish nurse program at St. Agnes many years ago. “I have big shoes to fill,” Davis said. “Lynn and Barbara developed a rich and full program that encompassed training St. Agnes staff members and parishioners in CPR/AED use, and active shooter scenarios. Barbara has led us on the walk to Bethlehem, encouraged parish participation in a national blood pressure program, held community health fairs and offered monthly blood pressure and blood sugar readings. She has been a go-to person for parishioners regarding their health for many years. I am humbled by her passion for nursing and her care for her fellow parishioners. Thank you, Barbara and Lynn, for all you have done and continue to do.” “Barbara has been my mentor both as a nurse and in the parish setting,” Davis said. Both Mueller and Dunlevy have offered to continue volunteering their time and expertise to keep the parish nurse program going. Davis, who shared that she came to nursing late in life, has been a nurse for nine years. She works full time in a cancer center. With a great foundation at St. Agnes in parish ministry, Davis believes this ministry will continue and become stronger. Ending her letter, she wrote: “With Father Andy’s support, that of our volunteers and all the parishioners, we are looking forward to continuing the development of a parish nursing program that will serve our parishioners’ needs and continue to nurture the physical and mental health of our parish family along with their spiritual health.” Parish nurses can be found throughout the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. In addition to blood pressure and sugar screenings that are planned at St. Agnes, parish nurses around the state offer several other ways to help their fellow parishioners stay focused on their health. They have conducted cholesterol checks, skin screenings, and mammograms; visit shut-ins and the elderly; and offer spiritual-based weight loss programs, to name a few. With a focus on wellness of body, mind, and spirit, they also maintain social media sites to help foster awareness.