Since 2001, the EAMC Parish Nurses have been serving the community though
programs in churches as well as other sites, such as community health fairs
(including an annual Hispanic health fair). The Parish Nurse Program provides the opportunity for registered nurses
employed by EAMC to serve in their congregation or faith group. These nurses seek to reclaim the
healing ministry of the faith community and serve as bridges between the
community of faith and the medical community. The group currently is active in
more than 20 congregations in Lee, Macon, and Chambers counties.
In 2006, the EAMC Parish Nurses collaborated with the J.W. Darden Foundation and
the Auburn University School of Nursing to establish the Darden Community
Wellness Center in the Darden House in Opelika. Since then, they have helped staff two comprehensive health fairs at the
Darden House as well as free health seminars and blood pressure screens. The Parish Nurses provide health
education on a different topic each quarter, and students in the Auburn
University School of Nursing check blood pressures and give flu shots or test
blood sugars, depending on what topic is featured. Other groups participate as
well, including the EAMC Diabetes and Nutrition Center, the Cancer Center of East
Alabama (which provides free PSA tests for prostate cancer), and more. In September 2009, the Parish Nurses
and EAMC started providing weekly chronic disease management services at the
Darden House on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. until noon, and see patients with heart
failure, hypertension and diabetes.
Most patients are referred by EAMC, although walk-ins are welcome. The parish nurses check blood
pressures, monitor glucose levels, and check weights and calf circumferences. They also offer health education and
provide referrals to other area resources.
The Darden House is the restored home of the late Dr. J.W. Darden, the first
African-American physician to practice in the area. He built his home at 1323
Auburn Street in Opelika in 1904 and actually had a small clinic there. It has
come full circle: in addition to being used for meetings for community groups,
it serves as the Darden Wellness Center.
Each year, the East Alabama Medical Center Parish Nurse Program serves
approximately 6,000 people in our communities, providing care, support, and
Current List of Parish Nurse Churches
For more information, call Nursing Services at (334) 528-1166.