HOW TO SUPPORT HOSPITAL PATIENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES
Jesus said: Treat other people as
you would like to be treated (Matthew 7:12).
Volunteering at your local hospital is an excellent way to show the Lord’s love – and yours – to those who are ill enough to be hospitalized and to the families who are so worried about them. You can be hands-on support and provide them with confidence and stability.
Hospital volunteering is largely an individual activity.
The ways you can help may vary somewhat from hospital to hospital. Find the hospital near you and their website. The website may list examples of how you can serve; it seems likely they will want you to apply, then come in for an interview. Their volunteer coordinator will learn about your skills and personality and fit you to the support they need and you feel comfortable with.
Here are some examples of patient support we’ve seen mentioned, although each hospital will differ:
- Greet, direct and assist people at admissions and the ER.
- Be present to assist, converse with, and comfort patients and families in the surgery waiting room, the pre-op surgery area, ICU, PACU and/or the ER.
- Perhaps help family members find things like coffee and food services, reading materials, charging sockets, counselling services.
- Read stories to any children present.
- Assist medical and nursing staff with their paperwork burdens
- Some hospitals have a program for cuddling infants in the neo-natal ICU.
- Some hospitals may have a need for volunteer chaplains of various faiths to supplement their full-time chaplain staff.
- Some hospitals have a program for volunteer musicians.
- You could choose to support the hospital itself, with work at the information desk, the gift shop, the library, a coffee cart, flower delivery and general messenger services.
The hospital will have some expectations and requirements you will need to meet. They will need to do a background check and perhaps a personal reference check.
Expect to start with an in-person interview. If you and the hospital decide to continue, expect a group orientation session and maybe further training, depending on the role you want to serve in.
Expect a TB test and a requirement for seasonal flu vaccination (and eventually a covid-19 vaccination). Expect the hospital to ask for a minimum time commitment from you, something like 3-4 hours per week at a consistent time for the entire upcoming year. There will be specific hospital policies to be observed, certainly likely to include a ban on attempts to convert others – though their might be opportunity to pray with those whom you’re trying to support.
- Find a hospital near you,
- fill out their application form,
- go to the interview,
- then decide if this is the best way for you to show your love of your neighbor.
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