Pastoral ministers aren’t the only ones who visit church members and guests who are hospitalized. Elders, deacons, Sunday school teachers, small group leaders and members, and many others also perform this very important function. Much of the time, they do so without any training or instruction.
Although each situation is different, some basic principles should be kept in mind when visiting a patient in the hospital:
1. Plan to visit during regular visiting hours. The patient may be involved with doctors or other hospital routines at other times.
2. As you enter, if the door is closed you should check with the nurses’ station or knock on the door. If the door is open but the curtain is pulled around the bed, call the patient’s name, identify yourself and ask if it is okay to come in.
3. Be friendly and open, but not frivolous or silly.
4. Do not sit on the bed.
5. Do not ask questions about the medical problem. If the patient volunteers information, be a good listener and let the patient know you are trying to understand his/her situation. Do not tell horror stories about others with a similar problem.
6. Talk about things of common interest. Be cheerful!
7. If the patient is able and wants to, suggest a walk around the corridor or to the waiting room. Hospital personnel do not always have the time needed to assist in such activity. Your help may be appreciated.
8. Limit the time of your visit. Normally ten to fifteen minutes is long enough. If the patient is seriously ill, a minute or two may be long enough.
9. If appropriate, read or quote scripture.
10. Pray with the patient. Pray for his/her physical condition, emotional well-being, and family.
11. Visit those who are scheduled for surgery the evening before or early in the morning before surgery. Do not get in the way of hospital procedures in preparation of the patient for surgery.
Be sure to share this list with all those of your congregation who are responsible for hospital visits.
If you have any additional thoughts or ideas on this topic, just reply to this post below! We welcome all comments and/or questions.
© 2014 Jim McLoud. All rights reserved. This post may be duplicated for non-profit church use, provided the following is included: “This information, originally posted at www.jimmcloud.com, is copied with permission of the author.”