People who are seriously ill can easily become anxious, and if they need hospital care, their emotional distress often increases. Thus, as reported in a journal for health-care professionals, “studies suggest that emotional and spiritual needs have a profound effect on patients’ health outcomes.” *
In response to those needs, Jehovah’s Witnesses provide spiritual comfort and practical help to fellow Witnesses who are hospitalized. Local elders take the initiative to visit those in their congregation who are sick. But what if a Witness patient receives treatment at a hospital far from home? In key cities worldwide, Jehovah’s Witnesses have organized Patient Visitation Groups (PVG). The congregation elders who belong to these groups regularly visit hospitals to assist Witness patients and their families who have come from other areas of the country, or even from other countries, to receive medical care. Over 28,000 volunteers belong to some 1,900 PVGs on six continents. *
What spiritual comfort do PVGs give?
A PVG member named William says: “I have been able to comfort Witnesses and their non-Witness family members simply by being there to talk and listen. I assure them that Jehovah God is aware of their situation and that he cares for them. Patients and their families appreciate it when prayer is offered in their behalf.”
Many have expressed their appreciation for the encouragement received from PVG visits. Below are a few examples from the United States, where nearly 7,000 PVG members visit patients.
Priscilla said: “Thank you for visiting my father in the hospital after his stroke. He was so touched by your visits! He was amazed that such a provision was in place. I think your visits helped him recover sooner.”
Ophilia, the daughter of a patient who died, told the PVG representative: “Your visits meant so much to my mom! She knew that Jehovah sent you. Thank you for your loving care.”
A patient was distraught and anxious after hearing that he had only a few days to live. James, the PVG member, spent time with him and shared the Bible’s comfort found at Philippians 4:6, 7. James says: “When I visited him the next day, he had undergone a remarkable change of attitude. In spite of his prognosis, he was now optimistic about Jehovah’s help, and he actually encouraged me!”
What practical help do PVGs offer?
Pauline, whose husband died in a hospital far from home, wrote: “Thank you so much for the help you gave us during the most stressful time our family has experienced. Just knowing that you would be at the hospital to meet us at midnight, even though you had to go to work the next day, was comforting. Thank you for making sleeping arrangements for all 11 of us and for keeping in touch with us every step of the way. I thank Jehovah and his organization for providing such help to comfort us.”
Nicki, Gayle, and Robin were involved in an automobile accident some 300 kilometers (200 mi) from their home. Carlos, a PVG member, was alerted and met them at the hospital when they arrived. Carlos says, “I offered to help them with anything they needed, and I ended up holding Nicki’s little dog so that she could go inside to receive medical attention.” Then Curtis, another PVG member, arrived with his wife. They stayed at the hospital until the family members of the patients arrived several hours later. An observer said: “All three were comforted by the care they received. But Robin, Nicki’s sister who is not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, was amazed by all the help the PVG members provided.”
^ par. 2 “Addressing Patients’ Emotional and Spiritual Needs,” published in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, December 2003, Volume 29, No. 12, page 661.