Q. I know that visiting the sick is a mitzvah – but why?
A. According to Maimonides (Hilchot Evel 14), visiting the sick is an expression of loving your fellow as yourself (Lev. 19:18). Your concern raises the patient’s morale, which is a crucial dimension of their recovery. The Talmud says, “He who visits a sick person takes away a sixtieth of their pain” (Ned. 39b).
It also enhances the treatment a hospital patient receives. I have often heard that when a person seems lonely and friendless the staff are tempted to lower the degree of care they show and whether this is or is not verifiable there is a perception that it is true. The Gemara (Ned. 40a) reports that when Rabbi Akiva visited one of his students who was ill, the attendants swept and tidied the patient’s room and the student said, “Rabbi, you have revived me!”