In 2005, Ella Garner Jackson, RN, founded ALCO, Inc., and now serves as its Executive Director. Based in Jackson, Mississippi ALCO assists church-based Health & Wellness Ministries throughout the state in conducting screenings, individual counseling, presenting educational programs, and connecting with other local and national health agencies to improve the health of our communities.
Our goal is to improve the overall health and well-being of individuals, families and communities as we eliminate health disparities and improve access to quality healthcare.
Our work is focused in African American churches. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Mississippi leads the nation in the incidents and deaths from most chronic diseases. Of all states, Mississippi has the third highest rate of deaths due to all cancers in 1999. The percent of Mississippians who are not having timely screenings such as mammograms, colonoscopies and regular check-ups are also high. But for each of these statistics African Americans have a higher percentage than Whites. We're working to eliminate these health disparities in the heart of the African American community - the local church.
More than 100 Registered Nurses (RN) in Mississippi, representing Catholic, Church of Christ, Episcopal, Inter-Denominational, Methodist, Missionary Baptist, Non-Denominational, Southern Baptist and other Denominations, have completed the annual training for Congregational Health Nurses.
They reside and work throughout the state in various hospitals, nursing homes, nursing schools, as well as private and state agencies. They function as staff nurses, nurse managers, school nurses, RN case managers, college educators, nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and hospital vice presidents of nursing. These nurses are committed unpaid volunteers when providing their services as Congregational Health Nurses.
There were no provisions for providing follow-up or routine training and support for trained Congregational Health Nurses, since the trainers were unpaid volunteers and they have other demand for their skills and time. Abundant Living Community Organization (ALCO) was founded to meet this void and serve as coordinator and recruiter for candidates for training and service.
Today, nearly forty trained nurses work together in the ALCO network as advocates for community health, planning and conducting health screening events, providing health education in the lay community, and making referrals for treatment to local clinicians for identified acute health care issues. They also function as recruiters for other nurses for training and service as CHNs