Public Health Issues in the News: What Can Churches Do?

Public Health Issues in the News: What Can Churches Do?

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Covid-19, Monkeypox, and infant formula shortages are top news stories today. Congregations are praying, mobilizing resources, and considering what they can do to respond. Many people turn to the clergy for help when they are struggling with food insecurity, inability to pay rent, or physical, mental, and spiritual health concerns. How can clergy care for all those in need?

The answer is that clergy do not have to do it alone, nor do they be expected to know all things. It is important to know what resources are available in the community, and when to refer. A recent survey conducted at Hartford Institute for Religion Research considered this concern related to the ways congregations responded to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Can churches be protectors of public health? This article suggests the reality that the church’s role in public health is historically based and growing. Researchers recognize the importance of engagement in public health while admitting clergy are already overburdened. Gardner writes, “we believe it’s worth encouraging congregational leaders to consider their churches as institutions of public health: places that can promote the physical, spiritual and emotional health of both their members and the local community.” (“Can churches be protectors of public health? - VTL News”)
 
Clergy should call upon people with education and training in the appropriate field for help. That may mean a referral to the local social services or public health office. It may also mean engaging others in the congregation to promote health and well-being, including the Health and Wellness or care team members.
 
Health and Wellness Ministries,
teams, or committees, can relieve some of the burden clergy face by advocating, educating, and promoting healthy behaviors in the congregation and the community. Health ministers might be faith community nurses, or healthcare workers with an interest in faith and health. Lay people with the gifts of teaching, encouraging and presence can collaborate with public health, mental health, and other organizations to carry out the mission.
 
Below you will find links to resources with helpful information on Covid-19 updates, monkeypox and the infant formula shortage identified as reliable by your SNEUCC Minister of Health and Wellness, faith community nurse. Share these links with your congregation, and your Health and Wellness team. Stay informed, stay safe and promote wellbeing!

Can churches be protectors of public health? - VTL News

Covid-19 Updates
  • Every household in the US is eligible for 3 free sets of home covid tests. If you have not gotten three sets, order now.
  • CDC now recommends that children ages 5 through 11 years should receive a booster shot 5 months after their initial Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination series…a booster dose will safely help restore and enhance protection against severe disease.
  • Anyone 12 and older who is immunocompromised and those 50 and older should receive a second booster dose at least 4 months after their first.
  • Whether it is your first booster, or your second, if you haven’t had a vaccine dose since the beginning of December 2021 and you are eligible, now is the time to get one according to CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky
  • According to the CDC Data Tracker, CT, MA and RI are at the medium to high level of transmission as of Friday.  Most of the counties are at high levels of transmission. ALL people are strongly encouraged to wear masks indoors when transmission rates are high.
Community Level Transmission Response Recommendations
 
Low Medium High


Monkeypox
  • Monkeypox  is a viral infection which is transmitted from one person to another by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets, and contaminated materials such as bedding.
  • The first stage of Monkeypox symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, and exhaustion. One to three days after the fever starts, a rash appears.
  • The second stage begins with the rash that starts on the face before spreading to other parts of the body. The rash turns into sores all over the body. Eventually, scabs form where the sores were. Until the scabs fall off and a fresh layer of skin appears, a person can spread monkeypox virus to others. Monkeypox can last up to a month.”
  • Asymptomatic transmission, and pre-symptomatic transmission has not been seen with Monkeypox.
  • Covid precautions will also mitigate monkeypox.


Resources for Locating Infant Formula

·HHS.Gov Find Formula During the Infant Formula Shortage The Department of Health and Human Services has an extensive list of resources to help families searching for infant formulas.

Connecticut Department of Public Health’s WIC Program Continuing to Support Families Through Nationwide Formula Shortage Resources listed and advice for families in the Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC).

What MA is doing to help families during the national shortage of infant formula   MA Resources listed and advice for families in the Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC).

Governor McKee, RIDOH Outline Guidance for Families Impacted by Baby Formula Shortage  RI Resources listed and advice for families in the Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC).

 

Author

ringen headshot.jpeg
Debbie Ringen

Deborah is the Minister of Health and Wellness at the Southern New England Conference.

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