Approaches to Hospital Visitation

One rewarding kind of outreach for a Sabbath School class is hospital visitation, but many individuals are uncomfortable in such surroundings. Here is a useful guide.

  • Arrive early enough to pray when someone faces surgery. If the person you’re visiting has a roommate, ask if he or she would like to be included in your prayer.
  • Touch the person. Hold hands, especially when you pray.
  • Spread smiles. Recall funny times. However, don’t make the patient laugh so hard that he rips stitches loose.
  • Focus on the positives. Simple statements such as “Your smile looks brighter” help patients see be­yond their wounds.
  • Let patients be real. If they need to cry, let them. Swallow pat answers and sermons. If you don’t understand an illness, especially a psychological or psychiatric problem, simply say, “I don’t understand, but I love you and care.” Silently being there is often the greatest gift.
  • Be sensitive to a patient’s (and his family’s) spiritual condition. Traumatic times may offer opportunities for God’s wooing. If the Lord opens a door, share Christ.
  • Keep patients connected with the outside world, especially when a hospital stay becomes lengthy. Bring church bulletins, notes from friends, photographs, etc.
  • Bring your Bible. If a patient feels up to it, read to him.
  • Pray before visiting for God’s wisdom and discernment.
  • Respect medical personnel. Be considerate. Hospital staff are often under stress.
  • Be forgiving. Pained people sometimes say sharp words. Don’t pounce back. Be extra gentle.

Friends and family can be the best or worst medicine a patient receives. Why not be the best!

Rhonda Reese
© 2006 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists