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Community nurse program aims to fill gaps in care

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Michelle Jerome, R.N. serves as the ‘parish nurse’ for Touchstone Health. Jerome looks forward to helping patients within the comfort of their own home. (Courtesy of Touchstone Health)

Senior residents of the Lake Chelan Valley now have a new ally with the launch of a Chelan Valley Community Nurse Program. The program is called Touchstone Health and is sponsored through the Lake Chelan Lutheran Church. It will offer nurse home visits as well as additional health services, free of charge.

Michelle Jerome, R.N. a local business owner, community volunteer and nurse adds another distinction with the addition of the community nurse role. The program is funded through a grant awarded to the church by United Healthcare for a parish nurse program.

“When I proposed the parish nurse program, I specified that I wanted to serve the community not just the parish. And the pastor told me that ‘parish’ actually means ‘community,’” Jerome explained.

The program will provide nurse home visits, blood pressure screenings, health education, referrals for other health and social services, as well as additional health related needs.

“This is intended to fill in the cracks. When we did a survey two years ago, people overwhelmingly stated that they want to stay home,” Jerome said of the surveys conducted by Chelan Valley Hope.

Touchstone Health, a community nurse program is funded through a grant provided by Unites Healthcare. (Photo by Jillian Foster)


Jerome added, “It’s so much easier to figure out what’s going on when you are in their home and see what’s going on. There are lots of programs in place to help with certain things. They are all either income based or eligibility based. I really want to be able to just see people and turn them over to someone if that is needed.”

Jerome is bilingual, speaking Spanish and English, and is an experienced nurse who received her nursing degree in Canada and became re-certified after moving to the United States.

When asked how the program will differ from home health care or live-in programs she explained, “I don’t do shifts.” Jerome said that home health care also has eligibility requirements which the parish nurse program does not. “I am looking to fill those gaps.”

The program is currently aimed to assist the elderly or ailing adults at no cost. While a grant has gotten the program started, donations are still welcome and needed. Donations can be made to the Lake Chelan Lutheran Church at 216 W. Nixon Avenue Chelan, WA 98816. Donors should specify on the memo line or with a note that the funds are intended for the parish nurse program.

To reach Touchstone Health, call (509) 679-9059 or email touchstonehealthchelan@gmail.com.

Touchstone Health will offer home nurse visits, health screenings and other health related services for the elderly. (Photo by Jillian Foster)

(By Jillian Foster)




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