BY DR. JENNIFER SANKEY-BATTLES and CONSTANCE BROWN
ATLANTA, GA. – There is a chronic disease crisis in our communities and churches. Six in ten people in the United States have one or more chronic diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, or kidney conditions (Center for Disease Control). This statistic includes people we know, our neighbors, and church members.
Recently, at the 51st National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) Annual Institute and Conference held in Atlanta, Georgia, Constance Brown, BSN, RN, CCM and Dr. Jennifer Sankey, Ph.D., MHA, BSN, RN members of the Central Florida Black Nurses Association of Orlando (CFBNA) and Health Ministers in their respective religious organizations, researched and presented possible solutions for the chronic disease crisis. As co-presenters, they spoke on the topic, “Nursing Ministry of Health and Healing: a wholistic approach to community engagement,” which addressed how nurses are equipped to minister to the whole person – mental, physical, and spiritual needs of individuals to prevent and manage acute or chronic diseases.
Most chronic diseases are related to lifestyle choices; however, some are reversible. Mrs. Brown and Dr. Sankey presented ways to engage nurses and community residents in preventing and managing chronic diseases that can positively impact our quality of life. Involving nurses within the church and community activities to minister to people’s specific needs can lead to preventing diseases and regaining health and healing of the mind, body, and spirit through lifestyle management.
Using Jesus’ ministry of health and healing model that yielded favorable results, Mrs. Brown and Dr. Sankey offered several solutions for the prevention and management of chronic diseases that include being aware of the social determinants of health and the utilization of designated workers to help educate on disease prevention, such as getting 7-8 hours of sleep, nightly, eating fruits and vegetables, regular exercise, having a positive outlook, trust in God, and healthy interpersonal relationships.
Mrs. Brown and Dr. Sankey presented more than ten community engagement initiatives as partial solutions to the chronic disease problem. They shared that the CFBNA provides a solution to the chronic disease crisis by utilizing a holistic approach to health and healing. It engages the community in healthy lifestyle practices through training Community Health Workers, teaching disease prevention to the elementary students in the Mini Nurse Academy at Ivey Lane Elementary School and promoting self-management of health at the Male Health Initiative. Each nursing activity offers a viable solution for the chronic disease crisis. After the presentation, the audience asked questions about showing interest in ways to gain community engagement in addressing the chronic disease healthcare crisis. Mrs. Constance Brown, past President of the CFBNA, Board Member of NBNA, Director of Health and Wellness Ministry for Bethel Baptist Association of Florida and Dr. Jennifer Sankey, President of the CFBNA and Director of Health and Disability Ministry at the Southeastern Conference of Seventh-day Adventists are well-known locally and speak to various audiences about health ministry and spirituality, this is the first time they presented at the National Black Nurses Association. Both did an outstanding job highlighting what can be done to address the chronic disease crisis. They represented well the work that is being done in the Central Florida area to prevent chronic diseases. If you’d like our members to speak on health topics at your organization, you may contact the CFBNA at firstname.lastname@example.org.