Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Prayers in a hospital

An intersting point is raised in this article in Fiji Village today. It seems that people are going into hospital wards and praying for patients whether they like it or not. Obviously the question of privacy is an issue and also consent.
Prayer sessions only allowed if requested by patients
By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 22/02/2017

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services has clarified that prayer sessions are only allowed in hospitals in cases where the patients or the relatives specifically request for spiritual healing.When asked by Fijivillage, the ministry says this is not imposed on anyone and it is only provided based on the request of the patients and their relatives.
However some family members of patients admitted at the CWM Hospital have raised issues regarding patients being prayed over by people coming around the hospital to pray.

A female patient raised concern that a woman just came into the ward and started praying and pressed her painful leg which made matters worse.The patient’s friend had to tell the woman praying to stop as the female patient was in extreme pain.It has been confirmed that the woman did not ask the patient for her permission.

Another father raised an issue that he spent the night with his son at the hospital’s Children’s Ward and a prayer of a particular religious group was broadcast on the PA system. This was done at about 6pm on that day.

Another family has raised the issue that a prayer group wanted to come and pray over a stroke patient.When the family refused, the prayer group started saying that it was not a stroke but the devil was in the patient.

Freedom of religion is guaranteed in the constitution and it is clearly stated that no one should force a particular religion on another person. When asked by Fijivillage, the Health Ministry says that it will look will into this issue as the ministry has a guideline in place in terms of attending to the requests for prayer sessions, which is put forward through the hospital’s Medical Superintendent’s Office.
The office then does the verification in terms of the requests made and also the prayer groups that attend to the requests.

The Health Ministry stresses that patients have every right to refuse any prayer and ward managers are aware of this and patients and relatives are encouraged to liaise with ward managers on this and they often do The ministry says respecting patient privacy and dignity is always of importance and is prioritised in all their hospital services.
I looked up some websites on protocols for hospital visiting and summarised some points I read.
What are the protocols about visiting sick people and prayer?
Sometimes it can be difficult to visit a patient in the hospital, but you can have a positive influence on them, whether they are your friend, family, church member. Listed below are some simple visitor guidelines.
Do ask your patient's or other family member’s permission to visit before you arrive. If they prefer you not visit, ask them if another day would be better, or if they would prefer you visit once they get home. Many patients love visitors, but some just don't feel up to it.
Do wash your hands and sanitize them before and after you touch the patient.
Only take flowers as long as you know your patient isn't allergic to them, and is in a room by themselves.. If your patient shares a hospital room, the other person may have allergies.
Do consider alternatives to flowers: a card, something a child has made for you give to the patient, a book to read, a crossword puzzle book, are good choices.
Do turn off your cell phone, or at least turn the ringer off.
Do stay for a short time..
Do leave the room if the doctor or provider arrives to examine or talk to the patient.
Do not ask intimate questions about the particular illness, respect the privacy of the patient.
Don't enter the hospital if you have any symptoms that could be contagious.
Don't take young children to visit unless it's absolutely necessary.
Don't take food to your patient unless you know the patient can tolerate it.
Don't expect the patient to entertain you. Your friend or church member is there to heal and get healthy again, not to talk or keep you occupied. It may be better for your patient to sleep or rest than to carry a conversation with you. If you ask them before you visit, gauge their tone of voice as well as the words they use. They may try to be polite, but may prefer solitude instead of a visit.
Do not chat with other visitors and ignore the patient.
Ask the patient if he or she would like you to pray.
Don't stay home, on the other hand, because you assume your friend or church member prefers you to not visit. You won't know until you ask.
Sorry, that looks like a bossy kind of list. Really pastoral visits are different for each situation - a teenage athlete, an elderly woman on sedation, an emotional man terrified of the outcome of surgery, and so on. I'm not a chaplain or nurse, and haven't been a patient in a hospital for 46 years! But I have experienced visitors when bereaved and oh sobosobo some do it well, others do not. I think it's mainly a matter of being sensitive to the needs of the person for re-assurance, for calm, for honesty but most of all to know that God is alongside them so prayer, Bible reading of familiar verses, and especially the texts of favourite songs such as 'In heavenly love abiding' or the Aaronic blessing, all can give comfort. So you don't rattle of stories or prayers, but be in attitude of quietness and reflection. It's a time of emotions rather than preaching.

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