Preparing Your Child for Surgery or Hospitalization
Hospitalization and surgery can be a new and difficult experience for both parents and children. Our Pediatric team provides ongoing guidance and preparation to make the experience as comfortable and positive as possible.
Each child responds to new experiences in a unique way. However, there are some general concerns that arise for most children, depending upon their age. Here are some helpful hints:
Scheduling a Preoperative Tour
An important way to prepare for surgery is to schedule a Preoperative Pediatric Tour, prior to admission. Tours are open to all children, their parents and siblings. Getting to know the hospital staff, procedures and environment before the day of surgery can help to make you more comfortable and ease your child's fears.
Your tour will be conducted by a volunteer or by a staff member from our Pediatric Unit who will be involved in your child's care.
You should have your tour during the week prior to surgery. Make the appointment as far in advance as possible. Tours are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4 pm.
To schedule your tour, contact Greenwich Hospital Volunteer Department at 203-863-3222, or e-mail Stacey.Green@greenwichhospital.org. You may also want to watch the pediatric pre-op tour video with your child.
Preoperative Tests and Admission Procedures
The surgeon or pediatrician will let you know if your child will need blood tests or other procedures before surgery.
On the evening before surgery, a preadmission nurse will call to give preoperative instructions, answer questions and tell you when to arrive:
- Your child should not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery unless specifically instructed to do so.
- If your child has a cold, fever, or has been exposed to chicken pox, notify your doctor immediately. The surgery may have to be rescheduled.
What to Bring to the Hospital
A day or two before the scheduled surgery, pack the things your child will need at the hospital, including a favorite book, toy, blanket, game or activity. Older children and teenagers may bring battery-powered devices; electrically powered devices are forbidden. If you are unsure whether an item is allowed, please check with the pediatric nurse at 203-863-3553. Do not bring valuables and try to label anything that is precious to your child. If you are planning to stay overnight with your child, bring along whatever you will need.
Day of Surgery
You should arrive at the hospital on the scheduled day, at the specified time. After stopping at the Admitting Office to verify information, you will be escorted to your child's room on the Pediatric Unit. Nurses there will check your child's weight, pulse, temperature and breathing, and provide a hospital gown to wear to surgery. In the surgical area, the surgeon and the anesthesiologist will ask more questions.
To avoid a separation that could be frightening to your child, parents of children over six months of age will be permitted to accompany them into the Operating Room and to stay until the anesthetic takes effect. You will be reunited in an area called the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) immediately after the operation. You will be given a beeper so that you can be notified immediately when surgery is over. Your child will be in the PACU until she or he is awake enough to return to the Pediatric Unit. There, post-surgical care will be provided along with any instructions you will need to care for your child at home.
Note: Your child may be wide awake and alert right after surgery, or groggy for a while. If you have any questions or concerns, bring them to the attention of your anesthesiologist.
Staying Overnight with Your Child
If your child is required to stay overnight, one parent may stay with him or her. A sleeping space next to your child's bed will be made available.
Taking care of a child after surgery can be stressful. After your child is discharged from the hospital, a nurse will call to see how he or she is doing and to ask if you have any questions or concerns. If there is anything you need to discuss, please don't wait for us to contact you. Call the Pediatric Unit at 203-863-3553 and ask to speak to a nurse. We are always happy to answer a parent's questions. You should also feel comfortable calling your surgeon or pediatrician.
Have your child rest or "take it easy" as much as possible and limit strenuous physical activities. You will be given instructions on diet, medication and other issues. Remember, you know your child best. Your judgment is most likely the right one. We are here to support you.