Suggestions for families of hospitalized patients
By Dr. Brown
The purpose of this article is to provide suggestions for families who have a hospitalized child:
- As much as you can, try to have a family member with your child during the hospitalization. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and even baby sitters can be very helpful. There are a lot of things that happen in hospitals that can be new and scary for little children in particular. Your interpretation and presence is crucial for them psychologically. This will minimize post hospitalization psychological issues. When you leave the room to get a cup of coffee or to get something from your car, be sure to tell your child what you are doing and when you will be back. Separation issues often begin with something easy to avoid.
- Take care of yourself too. Remember to eat, drink, sleep, brush, shower too! Remind those on the TEAM to also. This is especially true if the brief hospitalization becomes longer or very long.
- Are you up to date on your immunizations? Influenza and Pertussis. Be sure to have all those that will be taking care of the baby to have received a Pertussis or "Tdap" immunization. Usually, you can show up at a large pharmacy without an appointment to get the vaccination - no prescription necessary!
- Hand washing trumps the hand sanitizers! Viruses are much more contagious and are rarely dealt with the alcohol in hand sanitizers. A recent article told of 40% reduction in viral infections by hand washing 5 times a day. The kind of soap does not seem to matter.
- Be an advocate for your child. That is the job of the family member. When the next dose of medicine is due, gently remind your child’s nurse. Change of shifts for the nurses is the toughest time for “on time dosing”. Know the name of the nurse.
- Know the name of the medicines, the schedule of administration times, their purpose, side effects.
- Know what tests are being done today and when. Does this test interfere with therapy or other scheduled events for your child?
- Advocacy is not adversarial. Be kind, you are all on the same side, trying to help your child. A friend in your nurse is a huge advantage. Conversely, being known as the difficult parent in room 304 is not what your kid needs.
- Bring in food. If approved of by your doctor and the nurses, familiar food and drink from home is great to keep routines the same as home.
- Best suggestion: a notebook with a pen to take notes from doctors visits. You can log temperatures, or other important vital signs, drugs given, test results, etc., then others can refer to it if you are not there and visa versa.
- Write down questions for the team of doctors. When we are sleep deprived and the doctor wakes you up, it really helps during this time of stress.