You might go to the hospital if you fall off your bike and break your arm or if
you have asthma and have trouble breathing.
You might go to the hospital if you become dehydrated and need IV fluids or if you
need to have surgery to take out your tonsils.
It may seem a little scary to go to a hospital, but doctors, nurses, and other
hospital workers are there to help people who are sick or hurt feel better. Read on
to find out what happens inside a hospital.
Sometimes, your doctor decides you need to be admitted to the hospital (that means
you will stay overnight). He or she either needs to find out about something going
on inside your body or has decided you need special medicine, surgery, or other treatment
for a health problem. Your doctor will call the hospital to tell the staff that you're
coming, and you will go to the admissions desk to check in.
Another way that kids might be admitted to the hospital is through the emergency room. You might go to the emergency
room (or ER) if you are feeling very sick or have been injured, especially if
your doctor or parent feels that you need medical attention right away. In the ER,
the doctors and nurses will take care of you and help you feel better. If you need
to stay overnight at the hospital, someone from the hospital staff will take you and
your parents to your hospital room when you are finished in the ER.
When you go into the hospital, you will probably see your mom or dad fill out a
lot of different papers. It's important for the hospital to have 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 (sometimes again and again)
like your name, your birthday, and if you have pain. If you don't understand a question,
it can help to ask your parents — or the doctor or nurse taking care of you
— to explain.
Once you're in the hospital, you may have a room all to yourself or you might share
one with another kid. Your room will have a bed, usually with buttons to push that
will make the bed 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. There are usually
lights that you can turn on and off, and there is a special button to push that will
call the nurse if you need anything. You'll probably have a bathroom in your room.
Many hospital rooms have a TV and a telephone to use while you're in the hospital.
If you're going to be in the hospital for a little while, you can always bring things
that remind you of home, like pictures of your family, stuffed animals, books, or
toys — or even put up favorite pictures or posters on the wall around your bed.
You may want to bring your favorite pillow and blanket to be more comfortable.
In many hospitals, you can wear anything you want — like your own pajamas
or bathrobe. 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.
Almost every hospital will let one of your parents stay with you all the time,
even while you're sleeping in your room. During the day, sisters, brothers, grandparents,
and friends can visit as long as there aren't too many people at a time. They might
even bring you balloons!
You'll meet lots of people in the hospital, from the moment you arrive until you're
ready to leave. You might meet as many as 30 people just on your first day!
You'll meet nurses who will help to get you settled and show you around the
hospital floor so you'll know where things are. While you're in the hospital, nurses
will take care of you day and night. They'll check on you throughout the day to see
how you're feeling and if you need anything. Every few hours, they'll check your temperature,
blood pressure, heartbeat, and breathing. Nurses will also bring you any medicines
you may need while you're sick.
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 and takes care of children. If you're
in a hospital just for kids, you'll probably also see medical students (who are learning
to be doctors) and residents (doctors receiving special training in taking care of
You also might see a medical specialist — that's a doctor who is an expert
in a certain kind of medical problem or part of the body. For instance, a cardiologist
is a doctor who specializes in taking care of the heart.
Another example is if you have asthma and need to be in the hospital, you might
see a lung specialist or allergist who will help you with your breathing problems.
Transport people will take you from place to place; volunteers may bring coffee
to parents or play games, read, and watch videos with you in your room or in
the playroom; and therapists will show you how to use pieces of equipment, like crutches,
if you need them.
Some hospitals have child life specialists. Their job is to make sure kids in the
hospital understand what's going on around them and help them feel more comfortable.
Child life specialists can help explain something a doctor or nurse will do, like
place an IV or take someone to the operating room for surgery. They can help you feel
more comfortable about these things.
You will probably have some tests while you're in the hospital — not the
kind you take in school! The doctor may order a blood test, which involves taking
some blood from a vein in your arm. This can pinch a little, but it won't hurt too
much. For other kinds of tests, you may need to give some urine (pee) or poop.
Sometimes an X-ray, CAT scan, or
MRI will need to be done. These tests use a special machine to take a picture of parts
of your body. This helps doctors see the bones and tissues inside your body and helps
them to see if anything is wrong or is making you sick. If there is a test you don't
understand, you can watch a video that tells you about it or you can ask the doctor
or nurse about it, and they will explain it to you.
If you are going to have surgery (that's another name for having an operation),
you will meet an anesthesiologist (say: an-us-THEE-zee-ahl-uh-jist) before the operation.
The job of an anesthesiologist is to help you sleep during the surgery with special
medicines. This way you won't feel anything while your doctor operates on you.
On the day of surgery, you won't be able to eat breakfast because you can't have
an operation on a full stomach. But don't worry — your body will get fluids
through an IV. An IV is a tiny tube that carries medicine or fluids into your body
through a vein, usually in your arm or hand.
When it's time for the operation, a transport person will wheel you on a special
bed to the operating room,
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!
After your operation, when you wake up, you'll either be back in your room or in
a special recovery room — that's a room where nurses can keep checking on you
to make sure you're OK.
Most hospitals have playrooms, where you'll find toys, books, arts and crafts,
and games. Someone will be there to help you find something to do. If you can't go
to the playroom, someone can bring toys to your room.
Most hospitals have TVs or video games, and many have computers (with games!) that
can be brought to your bed. Also, many hospitals for kids have special visitors stop
by, like clowns or story characters.
Keeping Up With Schoolwork
If you're worried about falling behind on schoolwork while you're in the hospital,
there are ways to keep up. Many children's hospitals have a classroom and a teacher
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. If you're not feeling great and you don't think you
can keep up with the schoolwork, your school will understand and give you extra time
when you go back.
It's normal to be a little nervous — and even scared — when going to
the hospital. But remember:
Your family will be with you.
Lots of other kids in the hospital are going through the same kind of thing.
Many people, like doctors and nurses, can answer any questions you might have.
Don't be afraid to ask! Remember, they're there to help you feel better and will be
glad to make you more comfortable.
After spending time at the hospital, you should be on the road to feeling better!