Preparing for Hospitalization 

Preparing for Hospitalization

Getting Ready to Come to the Children’s Hospital of Georgia
It is important to be honest with your child about his surgery or hospitalization. Let him know some procedures may hurt, but most will not. Your child should understand that it is OK to cry but that it is important to cooperate with the hospital staff. Be prepared to explain why the hospitalization is necessary and what is expected. Reassure your child that you will be there throughout his hospitalization and that his hospital stay is not a punishment. Let him know that the doctor and nurse will help him feel better and when the doctor says he is well enough, he may return home.

Because a child's hospitalization disrupts a family, be sensitive to your other children's concern about their sibling. Explain what is happening and, when appropriate, arrange for them to visit.

Being away from home and separated from parents and family are probably the most stressful aspects of hospitalization for the toddler. For this reason, two or three days before admission is time enough to begin offering simple explanations. You can help your baby or toddler prepare by:

  • allowing your toddler to help pack his suitcase;
  • staying with your child as much as possible, especially overnight;
  • providing as much of your child's care as you can;
  • explaining to your child that getting sick and/or going to the hospital is NOT his fault;
  • allowing your child to express his feelings appropriately, for instance, by playing hospital;
  • reading books about going to the hospital.

Preschooler and School Age
Preschooers and school-age children are uncomfortable being separated from parents and family.

Magical thinking and fantasy play occupy a preschooler's mind while school-age children fear bodily harm, medicine that puts them to sleep and needles. They worry about being away from school and friends. Prepare your preschooler or school-age child for the hospital or surgery by:

  • allowing your child to help pack his suitcase;
  • staying with your child as much as possible, especially overnight;
  • providing as much of your child's care as you can;
  • talking positively about going to the hospital a few days prior to admission; for older children, this can start one to two weeks before admission;
  • telling your child why he is going to the hospital and what he can expect;
  • telling your child about the normal things that happen in a hospital such as watching television or playing with toys;
  • explaining to your child that getting sick and/or going to the hospital is NOT his fault;
  • reading books about going to the hospital;
  • giving simple, honest answers; if you do not know the answer to your child's question, tell him you will find the answer and let him know;
  • telling your child where you will be while he is in the hospital;
  • allowing your child to express his feelings appropriately, for instnace, by playing hospital and using toys;
  • letting him know that he won't wake up during surgery because the medicine will make him sleepy; once the doctor is finished and the medicine wears off, he will wake up.

Teens
It is important to talk with your teenager about being in the hospital and the procedures he will experience. Teens fear being away from school and friends. You can help by:

  • thoroughly explaining the need for surgery or hospitalization;
  • encouraging your teen-ager to make a list of questions and ask them;
  • encouraging open communication;
  • bringing school books and assignments;
  • respecting your teenager's privacy;
  • telling your teenager he can participate in his care;
  • providing your teenager with as may choices as possible regarding his care;
  • explaining that he will not wake up during the surgery but only afterward when the doctor has completed the procedure.

What to Bring to the Hospital
To make your child feel more at home, you may want to bring several of his favorite items from home. Be sure to label all items. We recommend bringing:

  • a favorite toy, game, book, blanket or other comforting item;
  • a favorite photograph;
  • personal-care items: toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, brush, shampoo
  • pajamas, gown, robe, slippers, shoes and socks;
  • comfortable clothes to wear home;
  • baby-care items if needed;
  • school books and assignments;
  • list of child's medicines with dosage amounts and pharmace telephone number;
  • list of allergies to food and medicine;
  • hospital records from other hospitals as well as doctor's telephone number;
  • any special equipment needed (glasses, splints, etc.)

Remember to Pack for Yourself

  • any medications you are taking;
  • telephone numbers you may need;
  • money for dining room and vending area;
  • comfortable clothes and shoes;
  • personal-care items;
  • small projects for quiet time.

Don't forget to bring Social Security card, health insurance information or Medicaid card and child's medical history and notify your insurance company about your child's procedure.

Managed-Care or Contractual Insurance Agreements
The Children’s Hospital of Georgia participates with a variety of insurance companies and managed care contracts. Please check your insurance policy to ensure that you have satisfied your insurance company requirements. Failure to do so may mean a loss of some benefits which you would be responsible for paying.