Suggestions for Hospital Visitation
• Before visiting, attempt to speak with the patient and/or next of kin to find out:
o Whether or not they want visitors.
o When is the best time to visit
o If there is anything they need/want you to bring (Communion, toiletries, reading material, food for spouse/caregiver, etc)
• Remember that hospital stays can be an intense experience, depending on the reason for and length of the stay. The patient (who is under the weather anyway) will probably be tired and not in the mood for a long visit.
• Prepare yourself for what you may see/experience, especially in any sort of intensive care unit:
o Machines monitoring “vital signs” (heart rate, breathing rate, blood-oxygen levels)
o Tubes entering and exiting the patient (to both collect and drain fluids)
o A ventilator (machine breathing for the patient) or devices to assist with breathing.
o Odors; hospital rooms can be smelly places.
• Remember to care for family members, especially the immediate family.
o Bring meals to them at home or in the hospital (cafeteria food is expensive and gets old quickly!)
o Offer to keep them company while waiting for surgeries, tests, and in between visiting hours.
o Above all, touch base on a regular basis (anywhere from once a day to once a week, depending on the situation).
o Don’t forget to continue care once the patient returns home.
• The chaplains can be a valuable asset. Utilize them if necessary.