Hospital Visitors: Important Three Ways

What do you say to someone lying in a hospital bed? How long should your visit last? What’s the most helpful thing to do? Rev. Richard White, director of religious ministries at Princeton Healthcare System, will answer these questions and more on Wednesday, May 19, 7:30 to 9 p.m., at Princeton United Methodist Church, Nassau and Vandeventer.

Anyone may attend this free community seminar. RSVP if possible to 609-924-2613 or

Those tips are going to be for the friend or religious community member who will make a casual visit. But what about the family visitors? What can they do?

At the National Patient Safety Foundation meeting today, Dave DeBronkart, known in the social media world as “ePatientDave,” is tweeting some provocative ideas: Q: “So u have open visiting hrs?” A: “We avoid the word ‘visitor’. It’s family, *however you define that.*

And: “Families are told at admission: ‘We do bedside shift report – you’re welcome to be there.’ LOVE THIS. Second set of eyes.”

And a really fun comment: One hospital (Lehigh Valley Health Network?) has bedside “daily care plan” at shift change. Patients have learned to rat out the weekend staff if it doesn’t happen!”

DeBronkart is a strong supporter of epatient efforts to leverage the Internet to obtain better care.

And Princeton-based Wayne Cooke, a colon cancer survivor, knows the difference that being an informed patient can make (shown with his oncologist, Dr. Peter Yi, and wife, Pat). In his article for U.S. 1 Newspaper , later published in his book “On the Far Side of the Curve” he offers “Lessons Learned.” Lesson 10 is “Know Your Stuff,” about the importance of looking on the Internet to be an informed patient.

Cooke and Dr Yi will appear on a panel for National Cancer Survivors’ Day at the University Medical Center of Princeton on Sunday, June 6, at 9 a.m. The full program runs 8 to 11:45 a.m. Register here.

Often the best help for the epatient is the friend or relative who looks up the information. (Is there a term for this? “ecaregiver?”) Ideally, the same person will stick around the hospital room for the shift change updates. In today’s hospitals, a second set of eyes — and sometimes hands, to prop a pillow, to fetch water — can be ever so important.

If they can pray for you, even better.

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