Contagious Ministry: Outreach Serving Oklahoma Seniors Continues to Spread
Creating the Wellness on Wheels Program at Concordia Life Care Community just made sense.
A faith-based nonprofit, Concordia is a Life Care Retirement Community in northwest Oklahoma City offering independent living, assisted living and memory care. Our Concordia community is blessed with nurses who, a few years ago, expressed interest in outreach ministry. We quickly identified an unmet need in the greater Oklahoma City community where we knew our resources could make an impact and we went to work.
Oklahoma’s seniors are in need. According to America’s Health Rankings® 2014 Senior Report, Oklahoma is ranked as the 47th least healthy state in the nation for older adults. Oklahoma ranks 46th in the nation for both diabetes management and health screenings for senior citizens. Proper nutrition is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and Oklahoma is also ranked 43rd for preventable hospitalizations of its senior citizens.
Concordia launched the Wellness on Wheels Program in April of 2013, hosting free mobile wellness clinics at area churches, nonprofits and low-income senior housing communities. Our outreach nurses provided health care screenings to seniors including blood sugar and blood pressure checks, medication consultations and general health education.
During the first year of the program, Concordia hosted seven mobile wellness clinics. The following year that figure doubled as a result of a partnership with the Oklahoma City Housing Authority (OCHA). Concordia nurses began providing wellness clinics every other week at two low-income senior housing sites operated by OCHA. Concordia provided 54 free wellness clinics in 2015.
Towards the third quarter of 2015, a surprising partnership began to take shape between Concordia and four of its Lutheran sponsor churches, as they discussed the Wellness on Wheels Program becoming an extension of each church’s current outreach ministry. Many congregations have doctors, nurses and healthcare workers among their membership who could easily utilize the Wellness on Wheels Program model to serve older adults and seniors. As the program has grown, so has interest from retired and semi-retired nurses who want to be a part of creating a healthier community.
The Wellness on Wheels Program has continued to naturally evolve thanks to community interest and support, as well as partnerships with several foundations and churches. Partnerships with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Lutheran Church Extension Fund, and most recently Wheat Ridge Ministries, allowed the Wellness on Wheels Program to be 100% grant funded!
Concordia nurses have shared what a humbling experience it is to serve seniors through this outreach ministry, saying they’ve been blessed to provide health services to people who may not have access to vital health care screenings. In some cases, the relationships formed with clinic participants have become trusted friendships. God continues to provide opportunities to minister to His people by utilizing the resources He has blessed Concordia with to address an unmet need in the community. We’re excited to see how God will elevate this program in 2016 and beyond.
By leveraging the assets our community had to meet an existing need in the community, Concordia Life Care Community established a ministry that continues to grow, having significant impact on the lives it touches.
Effective ministry doesn’t have to involve reinventing the wheel, simply ask the right questions:
- What resources does your church or organization possess?
- What are your God-given gifts? Think about the greatest needs within your community.
- Is God urging you to serve in a new area?
Plant the seed. One small action today could provide hope and healing to countless people in the future.