If you're coming to the hospital for an overnight stay, this section will tell you what to expect. It may seem a little scary to go to a hospital, but doctors, nurses, and other hospital workers are here to help kids who are sick or hurt feel better.
Duke Children's is a great place for kids. Everyone here is really helpful, and they work very hard to make your stay the best it can be. You can tell right away when you walk into the main lobby and look around ... this place is all about kids! Read on to find out what happens inside the hospital.
- Why Do I Need to Stay Overnight?
- Your Hospital Room
- What Can I Wear?
- Can I Have Visitors?
- People to Meet
- Getting Tests
- Why Would a Kid Need Surgery?
- Having Surgery
- Keeping Busy
- Keeping Up With Schoolwork
- Feeling Nervous
Why Do I Need to Stay Overnight?
For many different reasons, your doctor may decide you need to stay overnight in the hospital. For example, he or she may need to find out about something going on inside your body or has decided you need special medicine, surgery, or other treatment for a health condition.
When you go to the hospital admissions desk, you will probably see your parent or guardian fill out a lot of different papers with your name, address, phone number, birth date, and other information--like if you take any medicines or have any allergies. You might be asked a lot of questions about how you are feeling. Don't be afraid to ask if you don't understand a question-everyone at Duke Children's is here to help you feel better.
Another way that kids are sometimes admitted to the hospital is through the emergency room. You might go to the emergency room if you are very sick and need medical attention right away. If you need to stay overnight at the hospital, someone from the hospital staff will take you and your parents to your hospital room.
Your Hospital Room
Once you're in the hospital, you may have a room all to yourself or sometimes you will share with another child. Your room will have a remote-control bed that you can make move up or down. A curtain can be pulled around your bed so that you can have some privacy while you're resting or changing clothes.
At Duke Children's, our rooms have a TV and a telephone to help keep you entertained while you're in the hospital. You can always bring special things from home, like pictures of your family, stuffed animals, books, or toys. You may also want to bring your favorite pillow and blanket to be more comfortable.
What Can I Wear?
In most of our pediatric units, you can wear your own pajamas or bathrobe or whatever you're most comfortable in. Sometimes you might have to wear a special hospital gown that makes it easier for the doctor or nurse to examine you. The hospital usually provides slipper socks or you can bring your own.
Can I Have Visitors?
Sometimes staying in a hospital can be scary, but your family can hang out with you while you're here. If you want, one of your parents can stay with you all the time, even while you're sleeping. And you can e-mail or call your friends and family to tell them when you'll be in the hospital, so they can make plans to come and see you. They might even bring you flowers, balloons, or other surprises!
People to Meet
At Duke Children's, you'll meet lots of people who are specially trained to help you, from the moment you arrive until you're ready to leave.
While you're in the hospital, you'll meet nurses who will show you around your hospital floor so you'll know where things are. Nurses will also check on you throughout the day and night to see how you're feeling. Every few hours, they'll take your temperature and blood pressure and listen to your heart and lungs. They'll also bring you any medicines you may need while you're in the hospital.
You'll see plenty of doctors in the hospital, too--you might see your own doctor or a doctor who always works in the hospital. Since Duke Children's is a hospital just for kids, you'll probably also see medical students, who are learning to be doctors, and residents, who are doctors receiving special training to take care of kids.
You also might see a medical specialist, who is an expert in a certain kind of medical problem or part of the body. For example, a cardiologist is a doctor who specializes in taking care of the heart. If you have asthma, you might see a lung specialist or allergist, who will help you with your breathing problems.
Transport people will help take you from place to place; volunteers may bring coffee to your parents or play games and watch videos with you in the playroom; and therapists will show you how to use special pieces of equipment, like crutches or braces, if you need them.
At this hospital, we also have Child and Adolescent Life Specialists. Our Child and Adolescent Life Specialists make sure kids in the hospital understand what's going on around them which can make things seem less scary. For example, they can help explain something a doctor or nurse will do, like place an IV or take someone to the operating room for surgery.
So, everywhere you look there are friendly people to help you. Whether you're at the nurses' station, or meeting a doctor, social worker or clinical assistant in your room, there's always a friendly face and a helping hand at Duke Children's. It's a pretty amazing place!
Your doctor will probably have some tests ordered for you while you're in the hospital. You may have a blood test, which involves taking some blood from a vein in your arm. Sometimes an X-ray, CAT scan, or MRI will need to be done. These tests use a special camera to take a picture of a part of your body. If there is a test you don't understand, you can ask the doctor or nurse about it, and they will explain it to you.
Why Would a Kid Need Surgery?
There are lots of reasons for kids to have surgeries. One common surgery is having special tubes put in the eardrums to help prevent ear infections and improve hearing. Or someone who gets tonsillitis a lot may need the tonsils taken out to prevent more infections.
Some kids need surgery to repair something they've been born with, like a cleft palate, which is an opening in the roof of the mouth. At times, surgery might need to be done right away if someone has appendicitis or broken a bone that can't be fixed with just a cast.
One good thing about surgery or an operation is that you usually get to sleep through it. Before your surgery, you will meet the doctor (an anesthesiologist) who is specially trained to give you medicine that helps you fall asleep and stay asleep until the operation is over. The medicine also keeps you from feeling any pain while the operation is happening.
If you will be going to sleep for the surgery, you won't be able to eat breakfast that morning. That's because having food or water in your stomach can make it dangerous to give you anesthesia. After the operation, your doctor will tell you when it's okay to eat and drink again.
When it's time for the operation, you'll be wheeled on a special bed to the operating room (OR), where you'll get anesthesia to go to sleep. While you're still awake, the hospital staff will explain everything that is going to happen. If you have any questions, you should always ask, so you know what to expect.
You'll probably notice that the people who work in the operating room wear special gowns and caps and masks over their mouths and noses. They even wear booties over their shoes! This is to keep the operating room germ-free.
After your operation, when you wake up, you'll be in a special recovery room called the PACU (post-anesthesia care unit). A nurse will be there to see how you're doing as you wake up. Once you're fully awake, you'll either be moved to a hospital room (if you're staying overnight) or to another PACU, where you can wait with your parents while the doctors or nurses see how you're doing.
Even if you feel great right after surgery, the nurses and doctors will tell you to take it easy. Remember that rest is an important part of getting better.
Duke Children's has special playrooms, where you'll find toys, arts and crafts, and games. And if you can't go to the playroom, someone can bring you things to play with in your room. We also have TVs and video games, and there are computers with games for you to play. If you're feeling well enough, one of your parents may even take you to the gift shop.
Keeping Up With Schoolwork
If you're worried about getting behind on your schoolwork while you're in the hospital, there are ways to keep up. Duke Children's has a Hospital School Program for kids who are in the hospital for a while. For shorter stays, if you feel up to it, your parents can have your schoolwork sent home or to the hospital. Don't worry, your school will understand if you're not feeling well enough to do schoolwork, and your teachers will give you extra time when you go back.
It's normal for anyone to be a little nervous or scared when going to the hospital. But remember that your family will be with you, and that there are lots of other kids in the hospital who are going through the same kind of thing as you are. Everyone at Duke Children's is here to help you feel better--it's a pretty amazing place!
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