by Mthr. Hill
Let’s begin here: We love to come visit you when you are in the hospital. Providing pastoral care to you when you are sick or grieving or afraid is the sort of thing clergy love to do. But, we cannot come to visit you in the hospital if you do not ask us to.
Before HIPAA (the federal law requiring patient consent to disclose their health information), every morning, hospitals called churches to let them know which of their parishioners were in their facility, in what room, and how to find them. Today, we cannot call the hospital to inquire what room you are in. We can only come to the hospital if you, or your immediate family member, asks us to. We cannot come to the hospital if we hear through the grapevine that you’re having surgery. We cannot pop into your home to deliver communion if your friend mentions to us that you have been bedridden for a few weeks. (You can imagine how distorted information becomes in the grapevine!) In order to visit you in the hospital, we need the news directly from you or your immediate family.
So, if you would like to be visited by one of All Saints’ clergy or by one our trained Lay Hospital Visitors, here is a guide:
• If you know that you will be in the hospital in advance of being admitted, let us know. Tell one of us clergy. Give us the dates. Let us know which hospital you’ll be in. Tell us who to coordinate with while you’re in the hospital. We will be there.
• If you are admitted to the hospital unexpectedly, your spouse or child or parent can contact a priest. This is a good thing to discuss with your loved ones while you are well. If you’re sick, do you want a priest to come see you? Do you want to be on the parish prayer list? Let your immediate family know your wishes and how to get in touch with us.
• If you do not want to be visited in the hospital, but would like to be on the prayer list, we can do that! The parish prayer list is first name only, so your privacy will be protected.
It’s just that simple! And, if you are headed toward a big surgery or are nervous about some tests on the horizon, I commend our Wednesday mass to you. The service is every Wednesday at noon in the Staff Chapel in the Gray House. The liturgy includes Holy Unction (anointing with holy oil) and the laying on of hands. It can be a great comfort.
To close, here is a prayer for the sick from our Book of Common Prayer: “The Almighty Lord, who is a strong tower to all who put their trust in him, to whom all things in heaven, on earth, and under the earth bow and obey: Be now and evermore your defense, and make you know and feel that the only Name under heaven given for health and salvation is the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.” – BCP p. 456