By Emily Viverette
FaithHealth roles work across the bio-psycho-social-spiritual spectrum to improve access and seek systemic solutions to gaps in care. Ultimately, no matter the specific role, FaithHealth is about neighbors helping neighbors and building a community of health that embraces the significance of faith.
FaithHealth roles are ever-evolving, fluid and grounded in trust. They work together with community partners, clergy and congregations to create a coordinated web of care to get people to the right door at the right time, ready to be treated and not alone.
Congregations provide volunteers to extend compassionate care beyond the walls of the medical center and agencies. Each FaithHealth role offers a strengths-based approach and serves as bridge between human beings and resources for health. The roles typically involve some combination of caregiving and capacity building.
Connectors, a part-time, lightly funded role, provide hands-on caregiving, such as delivering meals, while also recruiting and training volunteers. Most are recruited as connectors because they are already deeply trusted in the community or in a specific social network, such as a denomination or in an agency, like the Hispanic League. Many were doing FaithHealth work before FaithHealth existed.
Supporters of health are full-time staff who are a nuanced mix between a community health worker and peer support specialist. As individuals with similar lived experiences to their clients, supporters work within specific ZIP codes, which they know well, to navigate complex referrals and provide sensitive care. Supporters can connect clients with primary care appointments and medication, complete insurance paperwork, deliver food and much more.
Chaplains are clinically trained full-time employees of the health system who work both inside and outside the walls. Inside the medical center, they offer spiritual care and triage and make FaithHealth referrals. Outside the walls, they share the FaithHealth message in the community and seek to collaborate with faith communities and agencies to build capacity for FaithHealth work. Chaplain managers provide hospitality and some education to visiting clergy, whom they recognize as partners in community health and well-being.
FaithHealth fellows are full-time employees in agencies or systems committed to improving health in their communities. They commit to an 18-month educational program that is primarily a collaborative partnership. Many fellows have been chaplains, though previous fellows have also included a faith community nurse, a care coordinator, a counselor and a program manager at a public health department. They serve to develop FaithHealth capacity at a system level.
CareNet counselors are licensed mental health professionals who provide education and support for clients and families. These counselors are located in CareNet Centers across the state and specialize in spiritually integrated counseling. They recognize the value of faith in supporting the mental health and wellness of their clients.