August 24, 2013 10:39 AM

Those at St. Bernard of Clairvaux Catholic Church have been working to provide for both body and soul with a health ministry that aims to assist seniors who are facing illness.

Started at the parish a couple of years ago, the health ministry uses the Mercy Parish Nurse model. Volunteers and organizers have been trained by those in the Pittsburgh-based hospital’s program.

The program includes doctors and nurses who volunteer to perform routine exams such as blood pressure screenings for the elderly at their church. There is a psychiatric nurse who provides grief counseling.

A prayer chain is also part of the program.

“People have gotten acquainted and volunteered and now we have an active group of people. It’s very nice,” said Mary Micco, a volunteer with the program. “It’s been really successful. I’ve been surprised by the needs out there.”

Those receiving support have met some of those needs on their own: program participants with Alzheimer’s disease have befriended each other. They now get together for support and assistance, Micco said.

The program is particularly helpful to those whose loved ones live out of town or who unexpectedly fall ill.

“It’s meeting a need because quite clearly, there are certainly people, they reach a tipping point and all of a sudden, they need other people,” Micco said. “There is no reason the church family can’t step in.”

Volunteers are always welcome, she said. For more information, call (724) 465-2210.

— Julie E. Martin

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