I’m not a renegade, at least not too much of one. Sometimes, though, rules can and should be bent.
For example, if a friend or loved one is close to passing, and another friend wants to come to the hospital to visit, can they?
For confidentiality reasons, nurses, social workers and other medical professionals can give little information to people other than the agent (power of attorney) and selected family members the patient or family has chosen. The nurses or social workers may tell you they can’t answer, or they will divert your question or be silent.
Here are some questions they can’t routinely answer:
1. What is his diagnosis?
2. What is his prognosis?
3. Will the person be transferred to a nursing home or stand-alone hospice building, and if so, when?
4. And of course, how much time does the person have left on earth? No one really knows, and it’s obviously against any hospital rules to be specific about this.
Family often set their own rules about visiting. On Facebook, they may write, “No visitors, please. He is in pain and needs to rest,” What they may really mean is they don’t want a crowd swarming in their loved ones’ room, or a parade of acquaintances coming by and disturbing his sleep.
Before you go, call up the nurse on the floor, and talk, is my advice. Often if you give information about your relation to your friend, you build trust. Then they can tell you in a round about way if it’s a good time to visit.
Just last week my son and I wanted to visit our friend whom we’d known for many years. I knew from Facebook that he might not have much time here on earth. I called the nurse’s desk to see if a visit was appropriate. I gave her lots of detail about how we knew him and that I’d heard he might be transferred to a nursing home or hospice soon. We didn’t want to miss this opportunity. “Can we come?”
Her answer was music to my ears. “Come on down!” I felt like I was on “The Price is Right.” I was ready to win the grand prize!
We came. We were quiet. We hugged and told our friend we loved him. We left a note for his dad, who was taking a break.
Oh yes, we prayed. I prayed out loud, but I don’t have the foggiest idea what I said. Words aren’t so important at a time like this. God is. He knows our hearts.
If your close friend is very ill, don’t hesitate to try to visit. Speak softly. Don’t disrupt the nurses. Come on down!