Hospital Visitation

Written by Drew on March 26th, 2007

“Are you coming to visit ’59?” asked a nurse as I was waiting outside the hospital room of one of our members. Her patient had a name, although it escaped the nurse’s mind for the moment. With the turnover she saw every day, combined with the volume she had to handle all at once, the best she could do was refer to her patients by their room number.

It is tempting to be highly critical of examples like this. Ever since the days of Florence Nightingale, nurses have been held to a high standard of love and compassion. However, there are limits to what one person is able to do.

Today’s hospitals have to deal with things that were unknown in nineteenth-century nursing: ethics standards, medical codes, piles of paperwork, insurance companies, advanced technology, specialists, dieticians, physical therapists, executives, etc. These pressures make it impossible for nurses to spend a lot of time with their patients.

Believe it or not, it’s better this way. What if doctors and nurses were expected to provide their patients with all their emotional and spiritual needs, as well as their medical needs? Hospitals would be understaffed, there would be waiting lists to get in, and hundreds would die due to minor illnesses that could have been treated with the present system. Yes, doctors and nurses are busy. We need them to be busy. This is the only way to provide healthcare in the twenty-first century.
But the sick still have special needs that fit outside the medical spectrum. This is where the church comes in. Where doctors and nurses may not have time to provide the moral support needed by those who are sick, the church can provide what is lacking.
At Judgment Day Christians will be held accountable for the way they attended to the needs of the sick (Mt. 25:31-46). I’m not talking about something that will distract us from our focus. This is a part of the Lord’s work.

And it’s not just the preacher’s job. Preachers should be visiting the sick, perhaps more than others, but if you want to get technical about it, hospital visitation is primarily an elder’s responsibility (Jas. 5:14-15). Most of us can stop by and encourage someone who is struggling with her health. We ought to be doing more of that.

But we must be perceptive to what the sick really need. Sometimes a personal visit is the wrong thing to do. All of us know what it’s like to be so sick that you just want to be left alone. Let’s be sure our visits don’t leave the patient worse than she was before we came.

The word used by our Lord to describe the action of visiting the sick means more than just coming by (Mt. 25:36, 43; see also Jas. 1:27). Episkeptomai, translated “visit,” has to do with an inspection or examination with the eyes. In the context of visiting the sick, it refers to looking after them in order to help or benefit (Thayer). In many cases, this means a simple phone call or a card. Every case is different. In order to follow our Lord’s will, we must inspect each situation, see what is needed, and follow through with the proper course.
 

4 Comments so far ↓

  1. Kevin says:

    Great article, Drew! I appreciate the balance of talking about how important visitation is and why as well as showing that it is a Christian’s work, not just a preacher’s work. It was strong and compassionate at the same time, as well as mindful of those who are providing the care. Great balance and a great perspective.

  2. almcfaughn says:

    Drew,

    Thank you for the brief word study of “visit.” It’s somewhat sad that we have made “come by” a synonym (sp?) of “visit.”

    Adam

  3. Paula Harrington says:

    Great post.

    Thanks

  4. Dupa Jasia says:

    One of dopamine these was getting on very well–that was Buller.. But–er–my dear lady, need we go as far as that? Cannot this affair be settled–er–out of court? Could not this–er–individual–be admonished–told that he must give satisfaction–personal satisfaction–for his dastardly conduct–to –er–near relative–or even valued personal friend? The–er–arrangements necessary for that purpose I soma myself would undertake.. He was accounted the most successful and most baclofen unspoiled of men…

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