A Guide to Hospital Visits
Q & A: A Guide to Hospital Visits
It doesn’t matter if you’re a lay person, care-ministry leader, or pastor - hospital visits are difficult for everyone. There are often so many unknowns and questions . . . What will I see? What will I say? Here’s a list that answers those questions and addresses other pressing issues you may have before making hospital visits.
- When should I go? The best advice is to make the hospital visit as soon as possible. This is especially true when a sudden event has occurred. The family will appreciate your presence in the waiting room. Also, consider that many patients have very brief hospital stays. If you don’t go immediately, you may miss the chance. Remember, any time you make a hospital visit, make an appointment with the patient or the family first. Showing up unannounced can be a real problem.
- What will I see? Hospital patients are not in their “Sunday best,” that’s for sure. Patients may be in pain or in an altered mental state. If you can, gently ask the family members about the state of the patient before you make the visit. If you get queasy around intense medical situations, politely excuse yourself before you reach the point of no return. Gently apologize for your brief absence when you come back. You may consider recruiting another member of your care ministries team to do these types of visits.
- How do I act in a hospital? Above all, be respectful of the situation. Nurses and doctors are there to do their jobs. Don’t get in their way and don’t touch the medical equipment. The patient and the family are experiencing a trying time, so be respectful with the volume of your voice. Turn off your cell phone before you get out of your car.
- What will I say? Before the hospital visit, pray that God would direct your words. Rely on the Bible for comforting words for the patient. Consider Psalm 23; John 10:1–18; Ephesians 2:1–10; or Isaiah 40. Pray with them and remind them that your church is continually lifting them up in prayer, as well. If they have questions, focus your answers on the hope we have in our Savior.
- Should I interact with other visitors? When the patient has family or friends at the hospital, look to minister to those individuals, too. If they are unchurched, this may be one of the only times they will see the Christian faith in action. In addition, people yearn for comfort in times of trouble. When it’s appropriate, reach out to them with Jesus. Even if you don’t have time for a personal conversation with these people, be sure to leave a business card or a get-well card that includes your contact information.
- How long do I stay? A good rule of thumb is to stay with the patient 10–20 minutes. However, in certain situations you may have to use your best judgment. If the patient seems to be tired or in pain, cut the visit short. If the patient doesn’t have any other visitors, he or she may want your company for longer.
You are welcome to copy this article for one-time use when you include this credit line and receive no monetary benefit from it: © 2017 CTA, Inc. Used with permission.