The Valley Parish Nurse Program at Griffin Health will host a 30th Anniversary Celebration on Sunday, Oct. 13, from 1-4 p.m., at Griffin Hospital, 130 Division St., Derby.

Recognized as the longest-running parish nurse ministry in the world, the celebration will feature displays about how the more than 30 active Parish Nurse Programs affiliated with Griffin Health have helped their community over the past three decades. Light refreshments will be served throughout the afternoon.

Started as a vision of The Rev. Fred Erson, former director of Pastoral Care at Griffin Hospital, to provide “whole person healthcare,” the Valley Parish Nurse Program began in the fall of 1989 under the direction of Jan Sharkey, RN. The program grew from five parishes and six nurses to more than 40 churches and hundreds of active nurses and health cabinet members at parishes in Shelton, Derby, Ansonia, Seymour, Oxford, Naugatuck, New Haven, Waterbury, Meriden, Middlebury, Southbury, and Hamden.

Parish nurses serve as a healthcare resource and referral person to their churches and community. The goal of the parish nurse is to keep people healthy through education and preventative medicine practices, including offering free health screenings such as blood pressure, and to connect people to needed resources when appropriate.

In 1999, The Valley Parish Nurse Program expanded its services with the purchase of a Mobile Health Resource Van by Griffin. The van allows members of Griffin’s Community Outreach Department and the Valley Parish Nurse Program to conduct health screenings and provide health education practically anywhere. In 2006, Griffin purchased a larger, better-equipped van that has increased the frequency and types of health screenings.

“The Valley Parish Nurse Program provides us with a really unique dimension to healthcare,” said Griffin Hospital President and CEO Patrick Charmel. “Parish nurses are volunteers that live and work with people in their community and they develop a level of trust that allows them to connect, intervene, educate and understand the specific healthcare needs of their neighborhood.”

For more information about the Valley Parish Nurse Program, visit