Cathy Hasty: Director, Health Ministry

Cathy Hasty works in Charlotte, NC to assist faith congregations to offer good health promotion. She also uses art to help people heal. 

What do you do?

I assist faith congregations to offer good health promotion and support to people in all stages of life. Congregations have health programs such as screenings, disease specific education, advocacy coaching, home visits and structured group support that assist people in all kinds of ways. I am paid by a hospital to support the paid “faith community nurses” and “congregational health promoters.” These people help congregation and community members to navigate the health care system.

Also I create art to help people heal; I counsel people who are suffering about how to negotiate their challenges better and I serve as a medical ethics consultant. My background is in nursing, ministry, counseling and supervision. Art is one powerful avenue to address stress and trauma, helping us to integrate the data that we cannot absorb as well as to focus on beauty. Art give us a way to address the overwhelming information we face. I am fascinated that we consciously integrate about 50 bits of information amid the 10 million bits of data per second that we receive through our senses. All kinds of art open us to the complexity of our experience, the mystery beyond the misery.

Why is your work important? 

The faith communities can help people who fall through the cracks of our health care system. People are better informed and empowered to negotiate the health care system and to advocate for themselves and their vulnerable family and friends.

What's something cool you've learned about? 

I learned recently of the effect of stress on telomeres, the ends of DNA. I have a long history of study into stress and trauma. Recently I listened to a podcast from The People’s Pharmacy and ordered the book about DNA. It served to confirm what I have known about the ways that stress affect the body at the cellular level.

What's your favorite STEM fact? 

The amount of sleep you get and how lonely you feel are more important to how long you live than most people know (read about it here and here).

What do you with others knew about your line of work?

People think that religious folks are against science and that they are always trying to get others to convert to their religion. Both of these are NOT true.

Thanks for your work to help others navigate the healthcare system and with healing! If you’d like to nominate a STEM friend (or yourself), fill out the AweSTEM people form. You’ll also receive jewelry from Circuit Breaker Labs.