On May 14, FaithHealthNC reached a significant new milestone in the journey to build a partnership between faith communities and health care providers. Lexington Medical Center (LMC), Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center (WFBMC), and several Lexington-area churches signed a covenant that links them together in a shared mission of health, healing and hope. The covenant forms the foundation of FaithHealthNC in Lexington.
FaithHealthNC is funded by Wake Forest Baptist Health and is free to participating congregations of local faith communities. It strives to improve health by combining the caring strengths of congregations, the clinical expertise of health care providers, and a network of community resources.
“This is about helping patients navigate a complicated system to find the best possible health care or resources to meet their needs,” said Rev. Dr. Ray Howell, senior minister of First Baptist Church in Lexington. Howell also serves as chair of the WFBMC Faith & Health Ministries Committee.
The FaithHealthNC covenant was signed during a meeting held at First Baptist Church in Lexington. Churches and organizations of faith that signed the covenant include the following:
Meadowview Reformed Presbyterian Church, Lexington
First Baptist Church, Lexington
The Salvation Army of Davidson County, Thomasville
Jersey Baptist Church, Lexington
Brooks Temple United Methodist Church, Lexington
Congregations participating in FaithHealthNC will appoint volunteer Congregational Care Coordinators (CCCs) to facilitate care for members and their neighbors during times of illness, provided that their assistance is requested. The CCCs will work with WFBMC Health Care Liaisons under terms of the FaithHealthNC covenant.
Rev. Coley Rimmer has been appointed as the first Health Care Liaison for FaithHealthNC. He will work in collaboration with Rev. Dr. Lee Dukes, director of Pastoral Care at LMC. Liaisons will work to ensure that patients receive care at the right time (sooner rather than later), at the right place (community clinic, outpatient center, LMC or primary care provider), and with the right follow-up (adequate meals, patient transportation to medical appointments, understanding medications, and home-care services). Most importantly, Liaisons and CCC’s will ensure that patients don’t face illness alone.
As part of the covenant agreement, WFBMC and LMC are committed to sharing health-related information to congregations for disease prevention and wellness. In Davidson County, the top health challenges are obesity, mental health, tobacco use, heart disease, infant mortality, adolescent pregnancy, and drug and alcohol abuse.
“This is an extraordinary moment,” said Rev. Dr. Gary Gunderson, vice president of WFBMC Faith and Health Ministries, during the covenant signing on May 14. “This is God’s work, and there is no greater privilege. We’re on a team carried by someone greater than us, and doing greater things than we could do by ourselves.”