Families may become worried or anxious about an upcoming hospital visit. All children – both the child needing treating and siblings – may need special preparation to ease their anxiety. Here are a few tips to help your family before you arrive.
Visit Our Hospital
Visiting Levine Children's Hospital in advance will give your child a chance to discover the new environment before adding in any anxiety about having a medical procedure. This will make you and your family feel more at home when you arrive, and free all of you to focus solely on your child without worrying about finding your way around an unfamiliar place.
Sometimes we forget that the hospital is a new experience for a child and can be scary. We encourage you to explain what will happen and ask your child what is on his or her mind. This can go a long way in helping them relax.
Make a List
Many of your children's questions will be easy for you to answer ("Will you be there when I wake up?" "Can I eat ice cream?"), but sometimes they will come out with a tough medical question. When your child has a question you can't answer, start a list. Bring it to your next appointment or call 704-355-2079.
Read All About It
There are shelves of books available about visiting the doctor and the hospital. There are even some specific to common procedures like getting ear tubes and having tonsils taken out. Our family resource librarian at Levine Children's Hospital can help you find these and more.
Here are a few of our favorites to get you started:
- Miffy in the Hospital (Infants and pre-schoolers) Dick Bruna. (2003). Big Tent Entertainment, Inc.
- Big Operation (Ages 4 to 6) Richard Scarry. (1995). Simon & Schuster Children's.
- A Visit to the Sesame Street Hospital (Ages 4 to 7) Deborah Hautzig. (1985). Random House Books for Young Readers.
- Curious George Goes to the Hospital (Ages 4 to 7) Margret Ray, H. A. Rey and Margaret Rey. (1976). Houghton-Mifflin Company.
- When Molly Was in the Hospital: A Book for Brothers and Sisters of Hospitalized Children (Ages 4 to 7) D. Duncan. (1995). Rayve Productions, Inc.
- Good-Bye, Tonsils! (Ages 6 to 8) Juliana Lee Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff. (2004). Penguin Group USA
- Clifford Visits the Hospital (Ages 3 to 8) Norman Bridwell. (2000). Scholastic, Inc.
- Tubes in My Ears: My Trip to the Hospital (Ages 5 to 7) Virginia Dooley. (1996). Mondo Publishing
Talking With Your Child's Doctor
Talking with a physician isn't always easy. When your child's health is in question, your thoughts may be on other things or you may even feel intimidated by a lot of unfamiliar medical terms. But our doctors are here to help and support your needs and the needs of your child. Be prepared and make the most of your time with your child's doctor.
Before Your Visit
- Start preparing for the visit. Identify your concerns and be prepared to discuss them. It's helpful to write down your questions before your appointment – that way you won't forget them.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions. Ask follow-up questions until you're comfortable with your understanding of the situation.
- Take notes and write down any answers and instructions given by your child's doctor.
- Remember to follow any instructions given by your child's doctor about eating and drinking before admission.
Questions to Help You Talk with Your Child's Doctor
- Do you have any written or printed information I can use to learn more about my child's health needs?
- Is there a website you can recommend?
- What will be done while my child is in the hospital?
- Who can answer questions about my child's care during this time?
- How long will test results take and how can I learn about the results?
- Do I need to schedule a follow-up appointment after my child's hospital stay is over?
- What can I do to help my child's treatment/hospital stay be successful?
- What is the name of the medicine? What will it do?
- Will it affect my child's allergies or interact with other medications?
- How should I give the medication? At what time each day? With or without food? If the medication is liquid, what is the best way to measure a dose?
- How long should my child continue taking the medication?
- When should I expect to see an improvement?
- Are there any side effects? What do I do if my child has one?
- Should my child avoid any food, drink or activities while taking the medicine?
- Do you know of any other local or Internet-based resources for help?
- Are there any support groups where I can connect with other families?
When talking with your child's doctor, don't remain silent if you don't understand something. Unless you speak up, the doctor may assume you understand. Asking questions until you understand will help you and your child. Be sure to write down all instructions.
What to Bring With You to the Hospital
Make your child feel more at home by bringing a few favorites from home. Remember to label any items you bring from home. Here's a list to get you started:
- A favorite toy, book or game
- A favorite blanket or pillow
- A favorite photograph
- Comb, brush, toothbrush, toothpaste and shampoo
- Pajamas or nightgown, robe, slippers and socks
- Comfortable clothes and shoes to wear home
- Any special items your child uses (glasses, splints, retainers, etc.)
- School books and assignments
- List of child's medications (including dosage) and pharmacy telephone numbers
- List of any allergies to food and medicine
- Any hospital records you have
- Primary care doctor's address and telephone number
Pack for You, Too
While you're packing, you need some important things, too. Invite your child to help you pack so they'll know that you're going to be there with them. Here's a list to get you started:
- Any medications you take
- List of important telephone numbers
- Money for dining room
- Change for vending machines
- Notepad and pen
- Comfortable clothes and shoes
- Personal-care items like shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste and brush
- Small projects or books for quiet times
Don't forget to bring your child's Social Security card, health insurance information or Medicaid card and child's medical history. If you have health insurance, talk to the insurance company about your child's procedure and any required authorizations before going to the hospital.
Tips to Help Organize Your Child's Healthcare
Sometimes the volume of information regarding your child's healthcare can be overwhelming. You may find it helpful to get organized. Here's a list to get you started:
- Keep a journal, three-ring binder or some other filing system to organize your child's healthcare records
- Create a contact sheet to keep important names and telephone numbers at your fingertips
- Organize financial information into categories and label them for easy reference
- Understand your insurance plan, benefits and coverage plus any special guidelines you must follow
- Keep thorough records of medical bills and payments to ensure proper payment
- Write down any questions you may have to help you remember them
- Make written lists to help you keep track of important issues
- Share research information with your child's primary physician
- Ask for help if you feel overwhelmed
- Get help from friends, support groups and counselors
Write Down Everything!
Make written notes about phone calls and conversations and include the date of the conversation, who you spoke with, important details, their fax number and their follow-up telephone number. You can't remember everything so use these helpful conversation logs to help you recall details when you need them.