For many, Sunday service is more than just prayer. It’s about building a community. For many pastors, it’s about building a healthier congregation, which is why Pastor Dennis Lee has a nurse practitioner at his services.

“Part of our program each and every Sunday is she gives us a health tip. She takes anywhere from five to 10 minutes and gives us health tips on different situations that are going on, and the congregation is really starting to appreciate it,” said Lee.

Now, many health organizations are realizing the benefit of partnerships with local churches as a way to improve community health.

“Their connections to other people, particularly in their faith communities, because being engaged with other people really does help to improve health,” said Dianne Lumis, with UB School of Nursing.

Millennium Collaborative Care is partnering with several faith organizations across New York state to offer health clinics.

“This gives the opportunity to have discussions, longer acting discussions and be able to have more questions that are answered. We have healthy recipes. We have ways to exercise, and part of it is really just breaking down barriers, that we are a partnership and we are not telling you what to do,” said Lumis.

“One of the great things about having these health events is that people have the opportunity to get health information about their medical needs and how to take care of themselves,” said Lee.

The training is helpful for students entering medical professions to understand the underlying social determinants of health.

“Often clinical training is at the hospital, and they really don’t know what people are going home to. They don’t understand the barriers to getting medications, to engaging in care, trying to get to providers. This event helps them to, number one, talk one on one and have a conversation with individuals in the communities that they may not be familiar with to understand some of the barriers,” said Loomis.

The goal is build health partnerships with as many churches across the state as possible.

Read the full article at Time Warner Cable News here.

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The Erie County Medical Center Corporation (ECMCC) is the parent organization of Millennium Collaborative Care

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