Hospitals and Faith Communities

Thursday, October 19 11:15-12:30 and 1:45-3:00 p.m.
Ronnette Sailors BSN, RN, Faith Community Nurse

Healthy faith communities are wellness centers whether they realize it or not, and can be great partners in promoting population health. In these workshops, we will look at examples of program involving health system and faith community collaborations, opportunities and barriers involved, and how these might be applied in local settings.

Ronnette Sailors has worked in the area of health ministry for 28 years in local, state and national capacities. She was the first “parish nurse” in Nebraska and has been a life-long developer, promoter and supporter of health ministry. As a nurse married to a United Methodist pastor, she naturally shared her gifts as a nurturer, educator and advocate within her faith community. In 1987 Granger Westberg came to Nebraska and Ronnette was able to put a name and a framework to what she had already been doing for so many years…Parish Nursing!

She started the first “Parish Nurse Service” in Nebraska in 1988 and was a charter member of Health Ministries Association (HMA), attending the first meeting in 1989. She has held leadership positions on the HMA Board, including vice president and interim president, attended and presented at several conferences and assisted in conference planning. Ronnette worked with the Rev. Thomas “Tom” Droege, PhD and Dr. David Hilton, MD, to promote multi-faith inclusion in HMA.

As well as being a national leader in parish nursing, Ronnette has been instrumental in the development of health ministry programs in Nebraska (where she is known as the “Mother of Parish Nursing”) and Western Iowa. She has worked in several capacities to develop and support the growth of health ministry regionally and locally. In the mid-to-late 1990s she served as Health Ministries Consultant for Alegent Health in Omaha, providing education, consultation and collaboration for the development of whole-person wellness in congregations, and developed a health ministry training program for congregations.

In the early 2000’s, she was the coordinator for the Nebraska Health Ministry Network, through Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska. In 2005, she was recruited to lead and develop the Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) Health – Faith Community Health Network, where she provides education, consultation, resources and support to 65 congregations and 102 active Faith Community Nurses and Health Ministers in Nebraska and Eastern Iowa.

Additionally, Ronnette has worked collaboratively with other networks on a national level to improve the practice of faith community nursing. According to colleague Sharon Stanton, Ronnette has worked closely with HMA Leadership over the past 28 years, always promoting the advanced practice of faith community nursing, as well as urging all HMA members to remember the ministry initiative of this movement. She has been a faithful servant leader, bringing skills of practice and compassion of ministry for the good of the entire community.