Rev. Jay Foster is Vice President of Spiritual Care, Chaplaincy Services and Congregational Partnerships with Indiana University Health System. Prior to this position, Jay served as a chaplain, chaplain educator, and Director of Chaplaincy with Wake Forest Baptist Health, Winston Salem, North Carolina. He received a BA in English Literature from Furman University, M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and D. Min. from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is a Board-Certified Chaplain, Licensed Professional Counselor (NC, exp. 2017), and ACPE Certified Educator.
The Congregational Care Network (CCN)is an engagement program with congregations by the IU Health Department of Spiritual Care, Chaplaincy & Congregational Partnerships. This program launched in June 2020, as recipient of the IU Health Community Impact Investment grant—but the idea to cooperate closely with congregations to promote physical health and spiritual wellness dates back to the founding of Methodist Hospital. The CCN’s first initiative is to partner with congregations in Marion and Monroe Counties, to address social isolation. IU Health Chaplains and Social Workers identify patients 50 or older who have a chronic illness and live in the same community as the congregation, and offer that patient the opportunity to “connect” with a congregational volunteer (called a connector) who will offer companionship as the patient adjusts to life at home following a hospital stay. Connectors are available for persons of all faiths and for those who do not identify with any particular faith or tradition.
The Community Impact Investment grant provides resources of $1000 per month to partner congregations to amplify their ministry beyond their walls and into their neighborhood. The IU Health CCN team also provides education, led by an ACPE Certified Educator, program support, led by experienced program manager, and guidance related to behavioral health issues by licensed clinical social worker. Evaluation metrics include: process metrics, such as number of volunteer hours per month; quality of life measures, such as validated loneliness inventory; hospital utilization metrics, such as hospital readmission of CCN patients vis a vis control group.
While the pilot project focuses on social isolation and loneliness in downtown Indianapolis and in Bloomington, , the vision for the Congregational Care Network is to develop strong connections with congregations across the span of the IU Health Network, in rural areas as well as urban, and addressing a broad range of social impediments to health.