The hardest thing about hospital visitation is finding a parking spot!" jokes Kathryn Greene-McCreight, assistant priest at St. John's Episcopal Church in New Haven, Connecticut. But there's more to it than just parking and showing up. We asked experienced pastors for their collective wisdom.

1. Pray before you arrive. Whether it's in your car, on the elevator, or just outside the room, ask God to work through you. "Anyone can visit a hospital," says Bruce Sonnenberg of Village Church in Irvine, California. "You're there as a representative of Jesus."

2. Understand HIPAA. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act places severe restrictions on information that can be disclosed about a patient's medical record. "A patient will have a list of people who can know about his condition," explains Steve Murray, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Nashua, New Hampshire. "Get on that list."

Herb Flitton, a chaplain at North Dakota State Hospital in Jamestown, North Dakota, notes, "Most ...

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