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Parish Nurse

"If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."  (1 Peter 4:11)

Parish nursing combines professional nursing and health ministry. A Parish Nurse is a professional nurse who focuses on the intentional care of the spirit, promotion of wholistic health and prevention or minimization of illness.

My husband Jay and I have been members of Ascension for around 25 years. I’ve been an RN for over 35 years and have a Master’s Degree in Nursing Leadership. For 25 of those years I worked at Mayo. In my various roles at Mayo I experienced working in every clinical area of both Mayo Hospitals, pediatric to geriatric; general care to intensive care. For several years I was in Nursing Management positions.

It is a privilege caring for people at their most vulnerable time. The Parish Nursing Program is a non-invasive practice. Examples of non-invasive efforts include a home and hospital visitation program, health fairs, blood pressure screenings, medication counseling, nutrition and exercise support, and educational programs or events. It’s also important to note what a parish nurse does not do. A Parish Nurse is not a home health aide. Parish nurses do not provide vaccinations, they do not prescribe medications, they do not replace the patient's primary care provider. As an RN I must stay within my scope of practice. A Parish Nurse does not assume the spiritual leadership role for a member.  I feel Parish Nursing is one way I can serve the members of Ascension and will do this as a volunteer, not expecting any payment in return. I love serving the Lord as a nurse.  It is an honor to serve the members of Ascension Lutheran as a Parish Nurse. If you have any questions, at any time, please ask. My e-mail is: nurse@ascensionrochester.org

 May the Lord bless your day,              

 JoAnn Bunke, MA, RN, PN

For more information about the WELS Parish Nursing program, please click HERE.

New COVID-19 Symptoms
May 2, 2020

As you have no doubt heard MN Governor Tim Walz extended the stay at home order until Monday, May 18th. This is not surprising since MN numbers continue to climb. Each day we continue to set a new record of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths. Testing in MN is increasing so it’s not surprising the number of cases has increased. However, the death rate is still climbing (as of May 2 when writing this) and this is very concerning.  https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/

We are all so ready to get back to the way things were before this all started, but now is not the time to become lax and let your guard down. Please continue to practice good hand washing or use hand sanitizer if no soap and water is available, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily, put distance between yourself and others, and cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when out in public. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on anyone under age 2 or who has trouble breathing or is not able to remove the mask without assistance. Note: per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and MN Department of Health the cloth face covering is to protect other people in case you are infected. It is not intended to protect the wearer. Wearing a cloth face mask does not protect you from others who may spread the virus. Therefore you must continue to maintain social distancing.

Lastly, a few new symptoms of COVID-19 have been added to the list:


  *Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following:



  *Repeated shaking with chills

  *Muscle or rib pain


  *Sore throat

  *New loss of taste or smell

And of course If you develop any emergency warning signs get emergency medical attention immediately. These include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, or bluish lips or face.

We may very well never get back to the way things were before this all started. I believe many good health practices will come out of it that will improve future health. The Lord has a plan and we put our trust in Him.

Thank you.

Your sister in Christ,


Steps to Take If You Think You Are Sick
April 8, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

With the spread of COVID-19 and the numbers of total cases and related deaths increasing in MN and Olmsted County I want to provide some information on what you can do if you think you are sick.

Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 may appear two to 14 days after exposure and can include: Fever, Cough, Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Other symptoms can include: Tiredness, Aches, Runny nose, Sore throat. Some people have experienced the loss of smell or taste.

(Click on the underlined sentences as they are links to the stated information.)

Local Resources:

Mayo Clinic Information If You Think You Are Sick


Olmsted Medical Center Information If You Think You Are Sick

CDC Coronavirus Self-Checker

Note: The following information is from the CDC website

If you have a fever or cough, you might have COVID-19. Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home. Keep track of your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), get medical attention right away.

When to Seek Medical Attention

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:

·  Trouble breathing

·  Persistent pain or pressure in the chest

·  New confusion or inability to arouse

·  Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

Call 911 if you have a medical emergency: If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the operator that you have or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a cloth face covering that covers your nose and mouth to protect other people.

CDC Steps to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 If You Think You Are Sick

If you are showing signs of the coronavirus, please remember to call your healthcare provider first before going in, and tell them you think you may have COVID-19. This way they can isolate you when you arrive.

If you are having a medical emergency and need to call 911, notify the operator that you have or think you might have COVID-19.

I pray our church family stays well and healthy.

The Lord will get us through this.

Your sister in Christ,


From Your Parish Nurse: Coronavirus Resources/ Tips/ Things to Consider
March 22, 2020

I share this with the caveat that things are changing so fast and sometimes information becomes outdated. What was true today may not be true tomorrow. For current information I refer you to the CDC website CDC.Gov Coronavirus Disease 2019

However, it's a very safe bet that item #1 and its importance will not change.

#1 Handwashing. Think about this: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), handwashing is like a “do-it-yourself” vaccine that reduces the spread of germs. You can reduce the spread of diarrheal and respiratory illnesses by correctly washing your hands. Wash for at least 20 seconds, the time it takes to sing the ABC song, Happy Birthday twice, or say the Pledge of Allegiance (that's a neat idea). Here are a couple videos:

Wash Your Hands for Kids CDC  
What you need to know about handwashing video CDC

#2 COVID-19 Symptoms, Testing, When Should I See a Doctor?  Remember: if you think you have symptoms (fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing), call your health care provider first, do not go in unless you have an emergency and in that case call 9-1-1. Great information on the MN Dept of Health website:

MN Department of Health about COVID-19
Coronavirus Self-Checker CDC website

#3 Food Safety FDA Food Safety and Coronavirus
Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19.

#4) What about mail and take out food? Here is what I've found:
The risk of the virus lingering on mail or a delivery box or bag or the plastic wrapper your newspaper comes wrapped in is very low, according to the CDC. If you’re concerned, pick up your food container, get the food out, then wash your hands, for at least 20 seconds. Grab the paper off the front porch, dispose of the plastic wrapper, then wash your hands. If your hands have touched something that you’re concerned might have come in contact with the virus, pick it up, take out what you need, throw away the container, then wash your hands.

galvnews common sense article

#5) How long does the Coronavirus live on surfaces?

A recent study found that the COVID-19 coronavirus can survive up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to two to three days on hard surfaces such as plastic and stainless steel. The researchers also found that this virus can hang out as droplets in the air for up to three hours before they fall. But most often they will fall more quickly. Harvard Medical School Coronavirus Research Center

Cleaning: Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. Most commonn EPA- registered household disinfectants will work. Use disinfectants appropriate for the surface. How to Protect Yourself CDC

That's it for now. Remember to socially distance yourself at least 6 feet from others (that's at least two adult arms lengths away from eachother).

Feel free to contact me at nurse@ascensionrochester.org or 507-226-7172.
Your sister in Christ, JoAnn

Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all you ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."

Body & Soul: News from our Parish Nurse
December 14, 2017

3 John 1:2
Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.

It is flu season. I have heard from many of you that you've gotten the flu bug already. Ugh, it's that time of year. What can you do?

Take time to get a flu vaccine

·  CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.

·  Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations.

·  Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every year before flu activity begins in their community. There are rare exceptions.  

·  Individuals 50 years & older who get a flu vaccine reduce their risk of getting hospitalized from the flu by 57%.

Visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines  


Take every day preventative actions to stop the spread of germs.

·  Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

·  While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.

·  If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)

·  Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

·  Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.

·  Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

·  Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.


Handwashing in a nutshell:  Hand washing with ordinary soap and water is the most effective way to remove germs. But when you're on the go, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are tremendously effective in preventing the spread of the seasonal flu, H1N1, colds and other viral- and bacterial-based diseases. If your hands are visibly dirty, however, wash with soap and water. Any type of soap can rid your body of harmful bacteria if used properly. You don't have to pay extra for antibacterial or fancy name brand soap. Preventing a week or two of misery from the common cold or flu will be well worth those 20 seconds spent with soap and water. Review this with your friends and family.

Remind me how do I wash my hands?

1)  Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.

2)  Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. It’s the physical rubbing that does a lot of the work.

3)  Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice or sing the ABC song.

4)  Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

5)  Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them. Turn off faucet with a towel.

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/prevention.htm  


My prayer is that everyone stays healthy so we can enjoy this special season and celebrate our Savior's birth, together.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

JoAnn Bunke


Body & Soul: News from our Parish Nurse
October 27, 2017

Exodus 20:13 - You shall not murder.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and befriend him in every bodily need.

We recently studied the Fifth Commandment in Adult Bible Study. Pastor Kom said this commandment protects our life. 1 Samuel 2:6 says “The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up.” We talked about how it’s the Lord who has the right to bring someone’s life to an end and how this is challenged today. One way is when we have to make end of life decisions. From my years of working at the hospital bedside taking care of people at their end of life I learned how important it is to have your healthcare wishes known. I saw firsthand how sometimes the family did not respect the patient’s wishes as he/she had expressed them to me. If the patient had made their wishes known in an Advance Health Care Directive and reviewed it with his/her family this would not have been an issue. The other very important thing to do is to make sure the healthcare providers know your wishes (such as the Physician). This can also be very important in a long term care setting.

According to Wikipedia, “An advance healthcare directive, also known as living will, personal directive, advance directive, medical directive or advance decision, is a legal document in which a person specifies what actions should be taken for their health if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves because of illness or incapacity.” Christian Life Resources has a “Minnesota Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Christian Version”.  I have a copy and can send it to you if you like. Or, it can be downloaded at this link:

Christian Life Resources Medical Directive Statements

There are other forms available such as this one from the Mayo Clinic: Mayo Clinic Advance Health Care Directive PDF

Whatever your situation: married/single, children/no children, I would recommend all adults have this conversation with those closest to them and consider developing some sort of an advance health care directive. This can take the weight off their shoulders when decisions have to be made at a very difficult time. If you have any questions or would like me to send you any forms, please let me know.


Body & Soul: News from our Parish Nurse
December 5, 2016

John 1:2 - Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.

It is flu season. We’ve been pretty lucky, and blessed so far. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention this year’s flu activity has been “sporadic”.

Have you gotten your flu shot? The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. Flu vaccination has important benefits. It can reduce flu illnesses, doctors' visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. I just want you to be aware of the CDC recommendations. For those of you over 60, see what the CDC recommends regarding shingles and pneumonia vaccinations. Talk to your primary healthcare provider about what’s best for you.

Visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines

And, I have to talk about handwashing again. Remember, despite widespread knowledge of the importance of handwashing, there is still room for improvement. A recent study showed that only 31% of men and 65% of women washed their hands after using a public restroom. How have you been doing? Here’s a reminder:

In a nutshell:  Hand washing with ordinary soap and water is the most effective way to remove germs. But when you're on the go, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are tremendously effective in preventing the spread of the seasonal flu, H1N1, colds and other viral- and bacterial-based diseases. If your hands are visibly dirty, however, wash with soap and water. Any type of soap can rid your body of harmful bacteria if used properly. You don't have to pay extra for antibacterial or fancy name brand soap. Preventing a week or two of misery from the common cold or flu will be well worth those 20 seconds spent with soap and water. Review this with your friends and family.

Remind me: How do I wash my hands?

  1)  Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.

  2)  Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. It’s the physical rubbing that does a lot of the work.

  3)  Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice or sing the ABC song.

  4)  Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

  5)  Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them. Turn off faucet with a towel.

My prayer is that everyone stays healthy so we can enjoy this special season and celebrate our Savior's birth, together.


Body & Soul: News from our Parish Nurse
October 16, 2016

Proverbs 14:30 - A heart at peace gives life to the body.

As you may be aware we conducted a blood pressure screening at Ascension this past weekend. Over 25 people had their blood pressure checked. I was surprised at the number of people who said they have an automated blood pressure machine at home. This is great to be monitoring your blood pressure. A reminder to have it checked for accuracy occasionally. Next time you go in for a medical appointment take it with you. It’s good to have it validated for accuracy.  I will keep my equipment here at church. Anytime you would like me to check your blood pressure, just ask. I’d be happy to. I will repeat this screening occasionally. Thank you to Judy Groth, Joan Broers and Amie Benson for helping with the screening.

Now, here’s some important information:

What does blood pressure measure?

Blood pressure is the measurement of force applied to artery walls.

Systolic: The top number, which is also the higher of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts).

Diastolic: The bottom number, which is also the lower of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood).

Blood Pressure Levels for Adults (18 or older)


systolic: less than 120 mmHg
diastolic: less than 80mmHg

At risk (prehypertension)

systolic: 120–139 mmHg
diastolic: 80–89 mmHg


systolic: 140 mmHg or higher
diastolic: 90 mmHg or higher

Why is it important to know your blood pressure?

High blood pressure is called the "silent killer" because it often has no warning signs or signs or symptoms, and many people do not know they have it (Rarely, high blood pressure can cause symptoms like headaches or vomiting). That's why it is important to check your blood pressure regularly.

Risk factors (you have no control over):

·  Age. Because your blood pressure tends to rise as you get older, your risk for high blood pressure increases with age. About 9 of 10 Americans will develop high blood pressure during their lifetimes.

·  Male or Female. Women are about as likely as men to develop high blood pressure at some point during their lives.

·  Race or ethnicity. Blacks develop high blood pressure more often than whites, Hispanics, or Asians.

·  Genetic factors likely play some role in high blood pressure, heart disease, and other related conditions. However, it is also likely that people with a family history of high blood pressure share common environments and other potential factors that increase their risk.

Risk factors (within your control):

·  Being overweight or obese

·  Not being physically active

·  Using tobacco

·  Too much salt (sodium) in your diet

·  Too little potassium in your diet

·  Too little Vitamin D in your diet

·  Drinking too much alcohol

·  Stress

    o  Source:  Mayo Clinic.Org High Blood Pressure

Good news: You can take steps to prevent high blood pressure or to control it if your blood pressure is already high.

You can help keep your blood pressure in a healthy range and lower your risk for heart disease and stroke by living a healthy lifestyle:

1.  Eating a healthy diet. Choosing healthful meal and snack options can help you avoid high blood pressure and its complications. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

2.  Getting enough physical activity. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure. For adults, the Surgeon General recommends 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, like brisk walking or bicycling, every week

3.  Not smoking. Cigarette smoking raises your blood pressure and puts you at higher risk for heart attack and stroke. If you do not smoke, do not start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease.

4.  Limiting alcohol use. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can raise your blood pressure.

5.  Maintaining a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases your risk for high blood pressure. If you know your weight and height, you can click here:  calculate your BMI at CDC’s Assessing Your Weight Web site.


Body & Soul: News from our Parish Nurse
August 29, 2016

Proverbs 22:6 - Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

With summer winding down it’s time to think about school safety. Very soon the school buses will be in full force, children will be walking to and from school, moms, dads and others will be busy getting everyone where they need to go. The changes that go along with the new school year affect all of us, even if we don’t have school-age children as we are out and about in the community. With that in mind I would like to focus on these things from the National Safety Council:

1.  Back to school tips for drivers:

     a.  If you are dropping kids off, schools often have very specific drop-off procedures for the school year. Make sure you know them for the safety of all kids. More children are hit by cars near schools than at any other location, according to the National Safe Routes to School program.

     b.  Share the road with young pedestrians. According to research by the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are 4 to 7 years old, and they're walking. They are hit by the bus, or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus.

     c.  Share the road with school buses. If you're driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car. It will give you more time to stop once the yellow lights start flashing. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.

     d.  Share the road with bicyclists. On most roads, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles, but bikes can be hard to see. Children riding bikes create special problems for drivers because usually they are not able to properly determine traffic conditions. The most common cause of collision is a driver turning left in front of a bicyclist.

     e.  More school-age pedestrians have been killed during the hour before and after school than any other time of day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And, although drivers are required by law to stop for a school bus when it's loading or unloading passengers, they often don't. Children should not rely on them to do so.

2.  School bus safety. Parents, if your children are riding the school bus, check this out: NSC School Bus Safety

3.  Head up, phone down. According to a study by SafeKids.org, 61 children are hit by cars every day in the United States, most often during the hours before and after school, and peaking in September. And, there has been a noticeable demographic shift. It is now much more likely a teenager will be hit by a car than his younger counterpart. Teens on cell phones are most likely to be hit. And, drivers have a lot to pay attention to in school zones, too, and there is never an occasion that justifies using a phone while driving. One call or text can change everything. A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control revealed that the most common form of travel to school for students age 5 to 14 is the family car. That translates into a lot of cars in school zones at the same time. Eliminating all distractions is key to keeping children safe. I’ve talked about distracted driving before. How are you doing with this?

4.  Backpack safety. The American Chiropractic Association recommends a backpack weigh no more than 10 percent of a child's weight. Here are some things to help parents evaluate backpack size:  NSC Backpack Safety

5.  Teen drivers: Half of all teens will be involved in a car crash before graduating from high school. If you have a teen driver you may want to check this out. NSC Teen Driving

6.  Bullying happens, unfortunately. Parents check this out:  Stop Bullying: What Parents Can Do

1 Timothy 4:12 - Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

Along with the new school year comes a new Sunday School year here at Ascension. As adult members of our congregation we all have a role in encouraging our Sunday school children and teachers. A small word of encouragement can mean so much.

I pray the Lord keeps us all safe as we navigate the streets and highways filled with school children and teachers. As a parent or significant person in a child’s life, never underestimate the role you have in not only keeping children safe but keeping them rooted in the truth of God’s word as they are out in the world. May God grant teachers patience and wisdom as they are so influential in the lives of children.

I also pray for our young people away at college. May the lord keep their faith strong and keep the study of His word a priority in their busy days ahead.

Colossians 2:8 - See to it that no one captivates you with an empty, seductive philosophy according to human tradition, according to the elemental powers of the world and not according to Christ.

Safety content from the National Safety Council website: www.nsc.org


Body & Soul: News from our Parish Nurse
June 20, 2016

Psalm 127:3-5 - Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.

It seems summer is in full swing. I wanted to take a few minutes and talk about summer safety. Listen up moms, dads, grandparents, or anyone supervising those spending time outdoors in the next few months. Not supervising others but just spending time outside anyway? This is for you too. Keep those little ones, and yourself, safe outside. Much of this information is from the website Safe Kids.Org  Feel free at your leisure to check out this site for more information.

Pedestrian safety - Unintentional pedestrian injuries are the fifth leading cause of injury-related death in the United States for children ages 5 to 19.
  • Teach kids to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street.
  • Teach kids at an early age to look left, right and then left again before crossing the street.
  • Teach kids to put phones, headphones and devices down when crossing the street.
Driveway safety - Each year, more than 9,000 children are treated in emergency rooms for injuries that occurred while they were unattended in or around motor vehicles. Many of these preventable injuries occur when drivers are unaware of children near vehicles.
  • Before you drive away take a few seconds to walk all the way around your parked car to check for children.
  • Designate a safe spot for children to wait when nearby vehicles are about to move and make sure the drivers can see them.
  • Accompany little kids when they get in and out of a vehicle.
Bike safety - Properly-fitted helmets can reduce the risk of head injuries by at least 45 percent - yet less than half of children 14 and under usually wear a bike helmet.
  • Wear a properly-fitted helmet. It is the best way to prevent head injuries and death.
  • Ride on the sidewalk when you can. If not, ride in the same direction as traffic as far on the right-hand side as possible.
  • Use hand signals and follow the rules of the road.
  • Wear bright colors. Reflectors on your clothes and bike will help you be seen.
  • Ride with your children.  Stick together.
Skating/Skateboarding safety - Skateboarding injuries can range from mild to life-threatening. Skateboarders have been killed by head injuries and collisions with cars.
  • Every skater should wear a helmet. Wrist guards, knee pads, elbow pads and mouth guards also a good idea particularly if just learning to skate.
Mowing safety - thousands of children are injured in lawn mower accidents each year. Lawn mower injuries account for a large percentage of accidental amputations.
  • Teach children to never play on or around a lawn mower, even when not in use. They should never be permitted to walk alongside, in front of or behind a moving mower.
  • Children under 6 should be kept inside the home while mowing.
  • Children should be at least 12 years of age before operating a push lawn mower and at least 16 before operating a riding lawn mower.
Playground safety - Falls are the most common type of playground injury, accounting for more than 75 percent of all playground-related injuries. Lack of or improper supervision is associated with approximately 45 percent of playground-related injuries.
  • Actively supervise children on playgrounds.
  • Take your kids to playgrounds with shock-absorbing surfaces such as rubber, synthetic turn, sand, mulch, etc. If your child falls the landing will be more cushioned than on asphalt, concrete, grass or dirt.
  • Dress appropriately; remove necklaces, scarves, and clothing with drawstrings that can get caught on equipment.
  • Wear shoes to protect feet from cuts, scrapes and splinters.
Boating safety - In 2013, 77 percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those who drowned, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket.
  • Always have your children wear a life jacket approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. Make sure the jacket fits snugly.
  • Infants and young kids are at higher risk for hypothermia, so if you are taking a baby on a boat, take a few extra precautions to keep your baby warm.
  • Adults, do not mix alcohol and boating. If something went wrong because you were not alert would you be able to forgive yourself?
Swimming safety - Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among children ages 1-4.
  • Actively supervise children in and around water giving them your undivided attention.
  • When there are several adults present and children are swimming designate an adult as the water watcher for a certain amount of time.
  • Teach children to swim with an adult and teach them to never go near or in the water without an adult present.
  • Always jump in feet first to check the depth before diving into any body of water.
  • Never dive in the shallow end of a pool.
Sun safety for all ages:
  • Wear light colored clothing. Dark clothing absorbs more heat.
  • Choose sunglasses that block 90 to 100 % of UV rays.
  • Wear a brimmed hat.
  • Wear lip balm with SPF protection.
  • Stay hydrated: don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Use the color of your urine to guide if you’re hydrated enough- the clearer the better. Drink water or all natural juice without added sugar. Eat fruits and vegetables (easy to digest and often high in water content). Avoid caffeinated beverages.
  • Avoid peak hours of sunlight, normally between 10a-2p.
Sunscreen is a must.
  • Use anytime you are going to be in the sun for more than 20 minutes.
  • Infants: The best way to protect infants from the sun is to keep them in the shade as much as possible, in addition to dressing them in long sleeves, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Make sure they do not get overheated and that they drink plenty of fluids. If your baby is fussy, is crying excessively or has redness on any exposed skin, take him or her indoors. Sunscreen use should be avoided if possible in babies younger than 6 months.
  • Dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, which blocks 97 percent of the sun’s rays. Higher-number SPFs block slightly more of the sun’s rays, but no sunscreen can block 100 percent of the sun’s rays. Currently, there is not any scientific evidence that indicates using a sunscreen with an SPF higher than 50 can protect you better than a sunscreen with an SPF of 50. All sunscreens should be applied approximately every two hours or according to time on the label, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.
  • Sunscreen may also appear in combination with an insect repellant. The Academy recommends that these products are purchased and used separately - sunscreen needs to be applied generously and often, whereas insect repellant should be used sparingly and much less frequently.
How do I know if the sunscreen is still good?
  • The FDA requires that all sunscreens retain their original strength for at least three years.
  • Some sunscreens include an expiration date. If the expiration date has passed, throw out the sunscreen.
  • If you buy a sunscreen that does not have an expiration date, write the date you bought the sunscreen on the bottle. That way, you’ll know when to throw it out.
Heatstroke safety - Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children. On average, every 8 days a child dies from heatstroke in a vehicle.
  • Never leave your child alone in a car, not even for a minute.
  • Don’t forget your child in the car. It happens! Create reminders by putting something in the back seat of your car next to your child such as a purse that is needed at your final destination.
  • Take action: if you see a child alone in a car, call 911.
Car safety - Minnesota's Child Passenger Restraint Law

Minnesota Law: A child who is both under age 8 and shorter than 4 feet 9 inches is required to be fastened in a child safety seat that meets federal safety standards. Under this law, a child cannot use a seat belt alone until they are age 8, or 4 feet 9 inches tall. It is recommended to keep a child in a booster based on their height rather than their age. (Check the instruction book or label of the child safety seat to be sure it is the right seat for your child’s weight and height.) Infants (under 20 pounds and one year of age) must be in a rear-facing safety seat.

Exceptions to the law
  • Children riding in emergency medical vehicles, when medical needs make use of a restraint unreasonable.
  • Children riding in a motor vehicle for hire, including a taxi, airport limousine or bus, but excluding a rented, leased or borrowed motor vehicle.
  • Passengers in school buses
Best Practices
  • When a child reaches age 4, if they still fit properly in their child car seat, keep using it until your child reaches the seat's upper limit for height and weight.
  • If your child is eight years old but shorter than 4' 9", continue to use the booster seat.
  • Children under the age of 13 should sit in the back seat of a vehicle.
  • Put any loose objects in the trunk or secure them. In a crash, loose items can strike with great force and cause serious injury.
Parents/ grandparents/ anyone involved in childcare: Learn CPR

Clareys CPR Training
American Red Cross CPR Training
Gold Cross Training

Enjoy the beauty of God's magnificent creation this summer, but please do so safely.

Isaiah 55:12 - “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

Resources used:

Safe Kids.Org Safety Tips
American Academy of Dermatology
Summer Safety Tips
Car Seats Made Simple


Body & Soul: News from our Parish Nurse
May 31, 2016

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 - Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

Comforted to Comfort

Did you know volunteering leads to greater life satisfaction, lower rates of depression and individuals who volunteer live longer? Evidence suggests the possibility that the best way to prevent poor health in the future is to volunteer. And, a 2015 study published in the Clinical Psychological Science journal found that relieving the impact of stress on health can be accomplished through helping others.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 74.2% of the U.S. population did not volunteer in the past year. According to research the biggest reason people give for not volunteering is “I’m too busy”. Jesus gave us his all. He wasn’t too busy. These verses in Matthew make it pretty clear, Matthew 25:31-46; 44- 46: They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.

Do you fit into the 74% who do not volunteer or the smaller 26% who do?

As the Apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 6:2, Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

The word “volunteer” means “a person who voluntarily offers himself or herself for a service or undertaking.”

Tips on becoming a volunteer:

1) Consider what you have to offer. If you enjoy outdoor work, or have a knack for teaching, you may want to look for a volunteer opportunity in which your special skills can be utilized.

2) Maybe you have organizational or communication skills the group can use.

3) Ask to be paired up with someone so you can see what to do. Similarly, if there is something you can teach someone else, offer to mentor someone else.

4) There’s no need to wait to be asked.

5) Find the volunteer activity that fits your schedule.

6) Virtual Volunteering - Yes, there is such a thing. Making phone calls, sending cards or praying for others would fit into this category.

7) Volunteer with friends or as a family.
     a. Volunteering is a great way to spend time together.
     b. Life lessons can be taught through service.
     c. Can encourage life-long volunteering.
     d. Start your own family tradition.
     e. Choose an activity together.
     f. Consider letting kids bring their friends.

Parish Nursing   As you are probably aware, Ascension started a Parish Nursing program a few months ago. Parish Nursing is an arm of the congregation's ministry concentrating on the specific needs that relate to the physical, emotional and spiritual health of its members. I continue to define the role and develop our parish nurse program so that members of our church family, young and old, remain spiritually strong and as physically healthy as possible for them. There have been several opportunities to support our members, as well as some members from outside our congregation over the past several months including providing food, rides, hospital and home visits, phone calls and offering prayer support. It is a privilege to assist those in need. As this verse in Galatians says, it is up to all of us to do so. Galatians 6:10, Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

As we continue to care for our own members and show God's love to other WELS members during their visit to Rochester, there will be even more opportunity to do good. We are asking for your help. What gifts has God given you that may help others? Not only in our congregation but also other members of our WELS family visiting Rochester for healthcare needs. Please prayerfully consider ways you can volunteer your time to help others. Something as simple as a card, phone call or visit can make all the difference to someone. I have learned that I get far more than I give when I do things for others.

Church Away From Home (CAFH)   At our worship services a few weeks ago there was also an introduction to our Church Away from Home (CAFH) efforts and a look at our Parish Nurse program. Both of these ministries offer an opportunity for all of us to help others. This was the focus of the “Comforted to Comfort” service, which included a video on ways Ascension has helped WELS members, both inside and outside our congregation. If you have not seen the video please take the opportunity to do so. There are copies on the table in the narthex. Thank you to those of you who have completed the volunteer survey. If you have not had a chance to complete one yet, it’s not too late. There are extra copies on the table in the narthex. Completed surveys can be put in Joan Broers mailbox, #114.

What is the process for enlisting help from those that have volunteered? Our workgroup will create a database with names and information about what each person would like to help with. Then when there is a need an Email or phone call will go out asking who can help. Our prayer is that there are lots of people on the list so there are several options when opportunities come along. Look for more to come in the near future as our workgroup further defines the process. Please feel free to step up if you see a need, even before being asked. Also, please remember if you have a need let one of the Pastors, Elders or me know so we can help you.

Ascension is a wonderful, caring family of believers and we have done many things for others. To those of you who make volunteering part of what you do, thank you. It is my prayer that everyone will find something they can do. Please consider ways you can help. If you have questions or want to help in any way, please let one of the pastors, an elder or me know.

John 13:14-15, Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

Resources used:
Benefits of Volunteering

Research: Volunteering can reduce stress
Health Benefits of Volunteering
Volunteering: Why People Quit


Body & Soul: News from our Parish Nurse
April 17, 2016

Proverbs 4: 25-27 - Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Do you think distracted driving affects just our teens? Think again. When we think of distracted driving using a cell phone to read or send text messages may come to mind. However, distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. These types of distractions include: eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming (hair, lipstick, etc.), using a navigation system, adjusting the radio or using a cell phone or smart phone. Distraction occurs anytime you take your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, and your mind off your primary task: driving safely. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing.

Here are some facts:

·  Distractions now join alcohol and speeding as leading factors in fatal and serious injury crashes.

·  5 seconds is the minimal amount of time your attention is taken away from the road when you’re texting and driving. If you are traveling at 55 mph this equals driving the length of a football field without looking at the road.

·  Text messaging makes a crash up to 23 times more likely.

·  Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens

·  Hands-free devices offer no safety benefit when driving. Hands-free devices do not eliminate cognitive distraction.

·  Texting while driving causes nearly 25% of all car accidents.

·  1 in 5 drivers of all ages confess to surfing the web while driving.

·  Research has shown that talking on a cell phone quadruples your risk of an accident, about the same as if you were driving drunk. That risk doubles again, to eight times normal, if you are texting.

·  In a survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, over 90 percent of drivers recognized the danger from cell phone distractions and found it “unacceptable” that drivers text or send e-mail while driving. Nevertheless, 35 percent of these same people admitted to having read or sent a text message or e-mail while driving in the previous month. Similarly, two-thirds of the survey respondents admitted to talking on a cell phone, even though 88 percent found it a threat to safety.

·  27% of adults have sent or received text messages while driving.

·  While 97% of teens admit that texting while driving is dangerous, nearly half admitted to doing it. Approximately 77% of teens have been in the car with a texting parent, so perhaps they were influenced.

·  Conversely, 90% of surveyed teens said they would stop texting while driving if a friend told them to and 93% would stop if a parent put their foot down.

What does the law say?

·  MN Law: Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers.

·  Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for novice drivers.

·  Ban on texting for drivers of all ages. Note: Minnesota defines novice drivers as those under the age of 18 with a learner's permit or provisional license

There could be serious consequences for violating these laws - including a delayed or suspended license. A violation of Minnesota’s anti-texting law can cost up to $300 and applies to drivers of all ages.

What can you do?

Parents: you're the number one influence on what kind of driver your teens become. Help them develop a lifetime of good driving habits by following these simple steps:

·  Talk to your teens Parents Take Action

·  Set clear “house rules”

·  Remind your teenager that driving is a privilege- a privilege they will lose if they don’t drive by your rules.

·  Have your teen sign a parent-teen contract.

·  AT&T drive Mode: free anti-texting and driving mobile app for Android & Blackberry

·  Parents/ grandparents/ anyone who has special young people in their life: Be a good example…show responsible driving behaviors starting when children are young.

Teens: Don't become a statistic. Here's how you can keep yourself and others safe when you're out on the road:

·  Take the Pledge Teens Take Action

·  Commit to being a safe, distraction-free driver. Print out the pledge form, fill it in, and keep it in your car or locker as a reminder to stay off the phone when you're driving.

·  Share a Faces of Distracted Driving video on Facebook or Twitter to let your friends know about the consequences of cell phone use behind the wheel. Change your social networking profile picture to remind your friends that "One Text or Call Could Wreck It All."

·  Speak Up. Don't stop at being a great driver - be a great passenger! Make sure to call out your friends, and even your parents, if you see them using a cell phone behind the wheel.

·  Spread the Word

All of us at any age: Put your phone in the glove box, turn off the ringer or power it off. If you are in a car with a driver who is distracted ask them to please stop with their distraction. If they are reaching for something, get it for them. If they are trying to answer their phone, offer to do it for them. It’s ok. You may be saving the life of everyone in the car and those around you. Research says most people will stop if you tell them to.

People know that distracted driving is not safe. Despite this, a National Safety Council report says that more than a third of people have read texts or emails while driving in the past 30 days. Taking your eyes off the road for even a second can mean the difference between life and death.


Would you ever be able to forgive yourself if you caused an accident that took someone’s life?

How would those who love you feel if you lost your life due to distracted driving? Think about it.

Resources used:

Texting and Driving Stats
End Distracted Driving
CDC Motor Vehicle Safety
OSHA Distracted Driving
National Safety Council - Understanding the Distracted Brain (pdf)



Body & Soul: News from our Parish Nurse
March 20, 2016

Psalm 24:4-5 - The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God their Savior.

Handwashing Fast Facts:

Despite widespread knowledge of the importance of handwashing, there is still room for improvement. A recent study showed that only 31% of men and 65% of women washed their hands after using a public restroom.

What is better? Washing with soap and water or hand sanitizer? Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs on them in most situations. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Antibacterial soap vs plain soap? Which is better? Antibacterial soaps are no more effective than plain soap and water for killing disease-causing germs outside of healthcare settings. There is no evidence that antibacterial soaps are more effective than plain soap for preventing infection under most circumstances in the home or in public places.  Therefore, plain soap is recommended in public, non-healthcare settings and in the home (unless otherwise instructed by your doctor).

Bar soap or liquid soap? It doesn’t matter but it’s easier to keep a bottle of liquid soap from being contaminated than a bar of soap. Store liquid products in closed containers and avoid “topping off” that might lead to bacterial contamination.

Does it matter if the liquid soap is antibacterial or not? No, there is no proven benefit to antibacterial liquid or bar hand soap. (The same is true of dish soap. There is no proven benefit to using antibacterial dish soap.)

Do hand sanitizers eliminate all types of germs? No. Some viruses, like influenza, are coated in lipids, “envelopes” that alcohol can rupture so those can be eliminated. But non-enveloped viruses, like norovirus (a severe gastrointestinal illness), salmonella, MRSA or e-coli are generally not affected. The C.D.C. says that as a means of preventing norovirus infection, alcohol-based sanitizers can be used “in addition” to handwashing, never as a substitute. Bleach is effective against norovirus, and can be used to decontaminate countertops and surfaces. And for people, the best strategy is washing hands with plain old soap and water.

Do alcohol based products kill the “good germs”? No. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers kill the “bad germs” very effectively. However, alcohol-based hand sanitizers have minimal effects on the good germs or “resident microflora.” This is because the good germs live within the various layers of the skin and within pores and hair follicles and they are not accessible to the alcohol.

What if I build up immunity? Does alcohol based sanitizer create resistant bacteria? No. The way sanitizers work is based on cell-membrane disruption by the alcohol, and that’s not something that bacterium can acquire resistance to.

A reminder: Alcohol based hand sanitizers are a sanitizer, not a cleaner; meaning that it will kill germs, but will not remove dirt, grease or grime off hands.

Remind me how do I wash my hands?

1)      Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.

2)     Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. It’s the physical rubbing that does a lot of the work.

3)     Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice or sing the ABC song.

4)    Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

5)     Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them. Turn off faucet with a towel.

What is the best way to use hand sanitizers?  To use hand sanitizers properly, use one or two squirts or pumps. Rub hands together briskly, front and back, between fingers, around and under the nails, until hands are dry. It should take about 15 seconds for the sanitizer to dry. Do not dry with a towel. Antimicrobial wipes or towelettes are another effective option. Again, look for a product that contains at least 60% alcohol.

However: Handwashing technique is important. If you don’t do it for 20 seconds, get the crevices, etc. hand sanitizer for 15 secs may be better. Poor hand sanitizer use beats poor handwashing.

Hand sanitizers are good to rid your body of germs you just picked up before you inadvertently put them into your body via nose, mouth, or eyes. No nail biting or nose picking! Keep your hands away from your face, mouth and nose!

Are hand sanitizers safe to use with children? Yes. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are OK for children and adolescents, especially when soap and water aren't available. However, be sure to supervise young children using alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Remind your child to make sure the sanitizer completely dries before he or she touches anything. Store the container safely away after use.

In a nutshell:  Hand washing with ordinary soap and water is the most effective way to remove germs. But when you're on the go, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are tremendously effective in preventing the spread of the seasonal flu, H1N1, colds and other viral- and bacterial-based diseases. If your hands are visibly dirty, however, wash with soap and water. Any type of soap can rid your body of harmful bacteria if used properly. You don't have to pay extra for antibacterial or fancy name brand soap. Preventing a week or two of misery from the common cold or flu will be well worth those 20 seconds spent with soap and water.

Disclaimer: The majority of this information is from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the MN Department of Health and is accurate for the general public as of March 2016. Health conditions or healthcare environments may instruct you otherwise in which case you listen to them. Much of this information is directly from these references used (click on the links to find posters and other great information):

Antibacterial vs Regular Soap

Handwashing Dos & Dont's Mayo Clinic

Stopping the Spread of Germs

When & How to Wash Your Hands CDC

Clean Hands Save Lives CDC

Handwashing: A Family Activity, CDC

Hand Hygiene MN Dept of Health


Body & Soul: News from our Parish Nurse
February 8, 2016

Proverbs 4:23 – Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

February is heart month. I wanted to share some important information related to heart health. In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 43 seconds. Each minute, someone in the United States dies from a heart disease-related event.

Know the risk factors: High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking are key heart disease risk factors. About half of Americans (49%) have at least one of these three risk factors. Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also put people at a higher risk for heart disease, including: Diabetes, being overweight or obese, poor diet, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol use.

Know the signs of a heart attack:

·  Chest pain or discomfort.

·  Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder.

·  Shortness of breath

·  Nausea, feeling light-headed or unusually tired (more common in women)

·  Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back (more common in women)

If you notice the symptoms of a heart attack in yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1 immediately. The sooner you get to an emergency room, the sooner you can receive treatment to prevent total blockage and heart muscle damage or reduce the amount of damage.

Learn your heart age and how to improve it. Click HERE for the CDC's "Heart Age" calculator.  Note: if you do not know your BMI (body mass index) there’s a BMI calculator on that same web page. If you don’t know your systolic blood pressure (upper number) we will be having a blood pressure screening at church in a few weeks. Stay tuned for more information.

You can start small. Start by choosing a risk factor or two that you're ready to change, like getting regular exercise, stop smoking, lowering blood pressure or healthy eating habits and focus on improving them first. If anyone would like more information please visit these websites or talk to me. I would be happy to do what I can to improve the heart health of our members.

Your sister in Christ, JoAnn Bunke, MA, RN, PN

More information:
CDC: Heart Disease Fact Sheet
CDC: Heart Disease Signs and Symptoms
American Heart Association: Healthy Living