Last updated: August 25. 2013 6:46AM - 86 Views

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LIMA — The spirit, the body and the mind are connected.

Bev Driver believes this. It’s at the heart of her work for the past 11 years, as coordinator for West Central Ohio Health Ministries.

Driver will retire at the end of the month after a career in nursing and public health. She was the ministries’ first coordinator and designed the program in the late 1990s.

Driver is an office staff of one, which means she’s not there much. Her greatest accomplishment, she thinks, is getting people from different congregations talking and acting together to improve community health.

“A lot of these churches have gotten to know each other,” Driver said. “If one church is doing a program, we advertise it throughout the network, so we’re not holding a program for 10 people.”

West Central Ohio Health Ministries is coordinated by the Allen County Health Department, but funded in halves by St. Rita’s Medical Center and Lima Memorial Health System. The office is housed by Trinity United Methodist Church, but the agency serves 32 partners in six counties.

Other communities in Ohio have church nursing programs, often called parish nursing, but Driver doesn’t know of one with the financial or community support that West Central enjoys.

The program came about because of a community needs assessment in 1996; people said they wanted more health information from their churches.

Since then, Driver has organized blood pressure screenings, flu shots and health fairs. She’s held classes on nutrition, caregiving and end-of-life issues. She’s trained parishioners who make hospital and nursing home visits on behalf of their churches. And, she’s gotten people moving, with things such as congregation walking clubs.

“If you’re a church you have to be doing health ministries, really. But this makes it intentional. It looks at body, mind and spirit,” Driver said.

To join the West Central Ohio Health Ministries network, call 419-227-0753. The membership is free.

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