Faith Community Health Networks in the Greater Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Northern VA areas

The Heal the Sick program supports the development of faith community health networks across the greater Washington, DC, Baltimore, and Northern Virginia regions. The networks bring together members of faith communities, community organizations, and health care providers to provide support, resources, and continuing educational opportunities for individuals interested in promoting whole person health, preventing disease, and addressing health disparities. The ultimate goal is for the development of self-sustaining networks.

Currently, Heal the Sick supports two networks: one in Northern Virginia along the Route 1 corridor in Alexandria in partnership with INOVA Mt. Vernon hospital and one with faith communities in Washington DC in Wards 7 and 8. Network meetings occur at least quarterly and include time for discuss, reflection, and education on topics self-identified by community and faith member participants.

Hospital-Based Networks 

The Northern Virginia network is an example of a partnership between Heal the Sick, faith communities, and a hospital or hospital system. This particular hospital-based network partnership is between the INOVA Health System and Wesley Theological Seminary.  The working partnership includes INOVA Mt. Vernon hospital, the Heal the Sick program, individuals from local faith communities and volunteer hospital chaplains who are active in local faith communities, as well.  All of these parties are working collectively to build and strengthen collaborations that bring together the resources of hospital and community health care organizations and congregations for improved community health.  The Heal the Sick has played a pivotal role in helping to educate faith community and hospital staff by holding introductory workshops and offering its Health Minister and Faith Community Nurse certificates.

Key staff for the INOVA - Wesley partnership include the hospitals head chaplain for pastoral services, chaplaincy staff, a network partnership manager employed by the participating hospital, Heal the Sick program director, and faith community members. Hospital-based network models work well for a hospital or hospital-system with a strong commitment to sustaining community connection and/or a chaplaincy or pastoral service department with strong community ties.

Community-Based Networks 

The network in Wards 7 and 8 in Washington DC is an example of a community-based network that draws upon a partnership between Heal the Sick and key clergy and faith community members from these Wards.  Many participants in the network are graduates of the Health Minister and Faith Community Nurse certificate who are seeking to integrate a health ministry into their faith community. The network provides an avenue of continued support after the completion of the certificate by bringing together individuals who are from the same region and who have similar goals and challenges.  There is a common goal in this network to coordinate faith community and health promotion efforts to address health disparities. Participants receive support from each other, as well as from Heal the Sick staff through continued educational opportunities.

Other Networks & Collaborations

D.C. Health Collaboration
Wesley Theological Seminary is working with D.C. congregations, Children’s National Medical Center, Ward 7 Health Alliance, D.C. Department of Health & Human Services - Places of Worship (POWAB) and the United States Department of Health and Human Services Center for Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships to reduce health disparities in the District of Columbia through creation of faith and health partnerships. We are building and strengthening collaborations that bring together the resources of many organizations and congregations for improved community health. DC has some of the highest rates in the nation of HIV/AIDS, infant mortality, diabetes and asthma. Within D.C. there are tremendous disparities in health and health care access.

Baltimore Health Collaboration
Wesley Theological Seminary is working with Baltimore area hospitals and congregations, Maryland Healthcare for All, the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church to improve the health of greater Baltimore residents through faith and health partnerships. We are working with several greater Baltimore congregational health ministries to develop a greater Baltimore regional network to provide a long term, sustainable structure for this work. We seek to build and strengthen collaborations that bring together the resources of many organizations and congregations for improved community health.

If you are interested in developing or learning more about faith community health networks, please contact us at theinstitute@wesleyseminary.edu.

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