After 19 years of providing spiritual care and counselling to patients, families and personnel in Gauteng government hospitals, the enterprising NPO HospiVision has officially arrived in the Western Cape.
The interdenominational NPO, which has established its base in Bellville, was commissioned by the Dutch Reformed church to expand to the Western Cape, and since February has been providing spiritual support and training at Tygerberg Hospital and Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Rondebosch.
For the past six years, HospiVision has had a significant presence at False Bay Hospital, but the organisation’s marketing consultant, Annette de la Porte, explained that a decision had now being taken to roll out services across the province.
“We have numerous training courses to raise up and equip volunteers to visit the sick as patients in government hospitals are often far from their family and need support during this crises,” said Ms De la Porte, whose husband André founded the organisation.
“You are very vulnerable in government hospitals, which can be heavily understaffed and people are under incredible stress.
“Then you have many patients coming from the countryside, and they might have a terrible disease. To be present for these people can be life-changing,” she said.
However, she emphasised that the organisation was against evangelisation in hospitals.
“It’s about listening to a person.
“We always ask permission from that person whether we would like them to pray for them. You have to be very wise about what you say in a medical environmental. People are naturally anxious in a hospital, even before they go in for a minor operation. For that reason it is very important that our volunteers are trained properly.”
Ms De la Porte said HospiVision was open to all religions.
“If we have a Muslim patient, we will call an imam. Everyone is entitled to spiritual healing. The main thing is that the patient is respected and you have respect for the hospital.”
So far the response from Tygerberg and the Red Cross Children’s hospitals has been “very positive”.
“For me it’s all about touching lives and making a difference, and I think people understand and appreciate that,” she said.
The introduction of HospiVision at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital has been particularly seamless as their former chaplain Lynne Pederson, who only retired in December, now carries out similiar duties on behalf of the organisation.
“Since retirement, I have been volunteering at the hospital but this organisation looks to be very organised and has a brilliant track record in Gauteng,” Ms Pederson said.
“I think HospiVision’s presence comes at an important time as well, as mainstream churches are increasingly unable to afford the placement of full-time chaplains. What I also like about the programme is that it caters to all religions.
“HospiVision’s first course in Cape Town is on compassion fatigue, which is common in all healthcare professions. In healthcare and therapeutic environments, we deal with limited resources – this includes our own inner resources.
“Traumatic cases, high caseloads and the stress of life drain compassion and resilience. You might even lack compassion with yourself,” Ms De la Porte said.
* Marianne Kruger is a clinical pshychologist from Johannesburg with 24 years’ experience.
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