Ten Things to Do in a Hospital Visit
Often as ministers, deacons, or church members, we may make a visit to a church member who is in the hospital. Lately, I have given this some thought. Such visits can be a remarkable time for blessing, bringing comfort, and strengthening a person’s faith. Here are ten observations to help us all with those goals.
- Be sensitive to the situation. Get a feel for the patient’s condition, stresses, willingness to have visitors. While in the hospital myself, I had a well-meaning pastor friend come to visit. However, I was in great pain and being tended to by nurses. We actually had to ask him to leave. If a doctor comes in, you should excuse yourself from the room.
- Listen to the patient. This visit is about them. By listening you will be able to pick up on ways to bring about hope.
- Give them Scripture. Use the promises of God to weave hope throughout your conversation. This will help them in those moments that they will have in which to think about life. Scripture is the foundation of their greatest need, the spiritual side of life.
- Don’t stay too long. Be aware of the patient getting tired or uncomfortable. Some may be in a state to stay for a longer visit, but as a general rule, leave well before your welcome is worn out.
- Have compassion. Ask God to give you a sensitive heart to truly love the patient and empathize with them. Think through what they must be suffering, the fears, waiting, disruption of life, the chronic setbacks, and inabilities that they are going through will help you to better pray and minister.
- Bring materials from church for them to read. Often a bulletin from Sunday will make their day. Furnish a prayer sheet or a church magazine to help them with boredom and to give a spiritual compass to their thoughts.
- Keep things private. Ask permission to share their condition or requests. I have often had church members who do not want anyone to know that they are even in the hospital. Some conditions may be personal or embarrassing.
- Don’t barge in. Knock on the door. If there is no response, ask a nurse to go in before you do. Some ladies have wanted to fix their hair, adjust their sheets, and put on lipstick before guests come in. If you cannot see the patient for whatever reason, leave a card so they know you came by and are praying.
- Care for others in the room. Reach out to family members. Great fear may exist in the lives of those staying with the patient. Include everyone in conversations. If the room is shared, pray for the person in the other bed.
- Prayer ought to be the one thing that you do in a visit. Even if the patient is in ICU and unresponsive, stand in the room and do spiritual warfare for them. Pray and pray boldly.