Serve Well Blog

12.18.13

Discernment in the Thin Places
2006 Krista Colleague Megan Hurley Menard

The Krista Foundation | Krista Foundation Press

As a volunteer case manager at Central City Concern in Portland, Megan Hurley Menard (who became a Krista Colleague in 2006) worked with homeless clients with acute medical needs who had recently been discharged from the hospital. But as a case manager, she was often viewed with suspicion.

One day, she watched a visiting public health nurse tend to a client whose deeply tangled health and addiction issues included a stomach ulcer. As the nurse unwrapped the wound, Megan was struck by the nurse's competence, compassion, and the trusting relationship between nurse and patient. "I realized that I had been working with the woman on all of her issues except this one. Until her physical wound could heal, the rest of her wounds would not solve out," she remembers.

A Krista Foundation grant enabled her to continue exploring her interest in health and homelessness at the Housing First Conference in Washington, D.C. Discernment skills presented at the KF debrief retreat and service leadership conference helped confirm her direction, and a year later she entered nursing school, focusing on care for women and babies. As a nurse, she thought, she could develop long-term relationships that help people think about immediate health needs as well as questions that affect their ability to look ahead. "When you are in pain, you can't think about the future."

After serving in a medical-surgical ward, a nursing home, a farmworker clinic, and a public health program focused on refugees, Megan Menard, R.N. and new mother of a 6-month-old girl, now encourages and empowers new moms in the Mother-Baby Unit at Spokane's Deaconess Hospital.

"Central City Concern's Recuperation Care program gave me a sense that there are thinner places when we are ready to change," she says. "In a hospital, you can see where your life has been and get some ideas on where you want to go. At Deaconess, I meet people at a very powerful time, when a new family member has arrived. I love helping new moms get a sense of their competence and power, work with their own intuition, and get breast feeding started."


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