Have you ever been hospitalized, for even just a couple days? Even an overnight stay can make 24 hours feel like a week! Having a friend, friendly acquaintance or even a complete stranger stop by for a visit can seem a godsend.
Sadly, a variety of factors have reduced the number of visitors that stop by to see a family member or friend who’s in the hospital – fewer families live near each other, friends scatter to different parts of the country, many are tied down by work hours & family obligations, to name a few.
A lot of people hesitate to make hospital visits because they’re not sure what to say, maybe they rub each other the wrong way, while some folks won’t step foot into a hospital unless they’re wheeled in from an ambulance.
I am blessed to come from a community stocked with friends & pleasant acquaintances who regularly swing by area hospitals for visits; my church’s pastoral staff has terrific hospital out-reach. With Holy Redeemer Hospital a 15-minute drive from the heart of my little hometown & other friends hospitalized at the same time, my hubster & my mother got visits from community folk who popped in because they were visiting someone else.
Hospital visits are old hat for me, with both Mom & John having major hospital stays. Mom’s were age-related, while John was hospitalized for life-threatening pneumonia & twice for treatment of Zenker’s Diverticulum. Praise be, unlike a lot of people who have conflicting responsibilities, I could be at the hospital whenever I wasn’t at work. A brother in the area wasn’t able to get by to see Mom as often as he would have liked – and she didn’t expect him to; like most Greatest Generation women, she looked to her available daughter -me – for care & emotional support, not her son.
Having visitors stop brings more than social benefits. Studies show that people in nursing situations who receive visitors typically also receive better care from the staff. As true in hospitals as it is in nursing homes. Visitors help staff get to know patients better, they are able to alert staff that their friend or relation would like something, they are someone patients can talk to about how they are feeling.
Not to discount the social aspects of a friendly visit! Mom could get through the nastiest of tests or boring hours knowing that someone would be visiting in the afternoon or evening. John’s face lit up when I’d walk through the door but it was a boost to his energy to see Jeremy or someone else from the pastoral staff, to get a visit from someone there to visit another patient.
Visitors matter. Studies indicate that the level of care received from hospital staff rises with a patient’s number of visitors. And having regular visitors lifts the patient’s spirit, even feel pampered. A visitor can help the staff get to know the patient as a person someone who focused on THEM & their likes. The benefits of having visitors go on & on. Which is why I say that friends & family shouldn’t send a loved one flowers or balloons during a – – they should send me, The Friendship Doula!
I am NOT a patient advocate, although I do suggest & can recommend some excellent ones. My gifts & graces have a softer focus. Thanks to Mom & John & countless friends & who’ve been hospitalized, I am an old hand at setting up music players with their favorite pieces, facilitating facetime visits with far-away & home-bound loved ones, cheering up their rooms with photos or colorful pictures. (Gotta give a shout-out to Holy Redeemer’s soft-hued rooms.) With regular visits from me & mine (John), all of the advantages listed in the previous chapter can be checked off. And once discharged, am happy to swing by for friend-to-friend visits.
The Friendship Doula – “family friend” hospital visiting services. Don’t send flowers – send me!