Suggestions for Hospital Visits

Blaine Robison, M.A.

Published 22 July 2013

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Sources: Unless otherwise indicated Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB Updated Edition (1995). Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions.


A. Respect the professionals and the hospital system.

Sometimes hospitals use coded signs (sometimes color oriented) on patient room doors, which may relate to:

          level of protective clothing required for people going into room.

          whether patient is sleeping.

          whether doctor/nurse is performing medical attention within.

          reference to type of diet.

Check in with the nurses station. Check on the condition of the patient before entering the room. Donít enter a room with a closed door or a ďno visitorsĒ sign. Wash your hands before entering a patient's room and after leaving the room.

B. Recognize levels of ministry or care.

You don't have to be all things to the patient.

          Social/Conversational - routine topics; friendship oriented.

          Supportive - sitting, hand holding, helping with room needs.

          Spiritual, praying, reading Scripture

          Counseling - helping patient evaluate alternatives.

          Therapeutic - giving patient opportunity to ventilate feelings; praying with patient for God's provision.

C. Be alert to patientís emotions.

Be alert for conditions or attitudes to report to the pastor. Accept the fact that you may find different emotional responses to the illness, injury, surgery or treatment.

          Denial that anything is wrong.

          Anger toward God, the medical professionals, family members.

          Bargaining with God for healing.

          Depression over physical discomfort or bad news from the doctor.

          Acceptance of one's condition.

D. Visit.

That's what you're there to do. Don't be afraid to ask questions.  The patient is living 24 hours a day with tubes, machines, charts, hospital food, etc.  Feel free to talk about what the patient is experiencing. Avoid mealtimes. Donít talk too loud; be aware of other patients and hospital employees.

Be prepared to wait. The patient may not be able to talk at a normal rate and you may be interrupted by medical attention. Don't appear to be in a hurry to leave.  However, don't overextend the visit since conversation can tax the patient.  The visit should probably be limited to 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the patients condition, time of day and medical attention being given.

E. Be an encourager.

Listen. People need to ventilate their feelings, particularly their fears. They may also need affirmation that everything is okay spiritually. Be reassuring of Godís love and care. Donít talk about any illness you or a family member may have had.

Smile. Show a positive demeanor.

Speak in gentle and soothing tones. Don't tell the patient your problems or gripes. "Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." [Prov. 16:24] "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones." [Prov. 17:22]

F. Determine Needs.

Try to find out possible needs at home that the Sunday School class or church could help with. Think how the routine affairs of your household would be disrupted by being in the hospital.

G. Offer Spiritual Solace.

Scripture. The Word of God can be a great comfort; select a passage in advance. Don't quote Scripture, however, that reflects the opposite attitude to what the patient is experiencing. Don't use Scripture to preach at the patient about how he should be feeling. Use when it seems appropriate.

Prayer. Pray for the patient during the visit or at the close of the visit. Say, ďlet me pray with you before I go.Ē Promise prayer during the course of the illness and keep your promise. Pray simply and concisely. Pray for Godís healing grace and touch upon the person. Pray for strength and peace for the patient and the family. Pray for wisdom in making medical decisions and pray for the medical personnel serving the patient.

H. Precautions

Wash your hands before going and after leaving the patient. Keep your hands away from your nose and eyes in between those washings. Do not touch medical equipment or paraphernalia. Donít sit on, lean on or jar the bed. Donít visit when youíre sick.


Copyright © 2010, 2013 by Blaine Robison. All rights reserved.