My daughter recently spent a week at Mercy Children’s Hospital. This was a brand new experience for me. I thought it would be helpful to share some of the things I learned in case you ever find yourself there, so you know the things that are available to you during your child’s stay.
We arrived at the ER on Saturday morning before Halloween. My daughter, Lily (age 8.5), was diagnosed with appendicitis. By the afternoon, they took her in for surgery. Some appendectomy surgeries have a short recovery. The ER nurse said it was possible we could be home that same evening. However, with a perforated (or ruptured) appendix, the recovery time is much longer. The surgeon prepared us to stay for at least a week. My daughter’s body had to not only recover from surgery, but her digestive system also had to recover from the trauma.
After surgery, we waited for an available bed on the children’s floor. The hospital was full of what I assume were respiratory cases like RSV and flu. They said they opened another wing in the children’s area to accommodate everyone. They just had to ensure proper staffing. We got to see her in the recovery room right before they transferred her to the children’s floor.
First, I want to mention the security. They give each patient a bracelet with a sensor on it. If the patient goes outside of the bounds of the children’s area, an alarm sounds (just like when they were born). Every visitor has to sign in at the desk and be given a name tag with the room number they are visiting.
Our room had a couch that turned into a sort of bed as well as a chair that reclined. The couch bed was fairly comfortable. I slept next to my daughter in the reclining chair on most nights. The chair was squeaky and would try to close up every time I moved. I added a pillow to the leg area to make it even with the foot area.
One of the first things the nurses show you is the pantry. This room has snacks and food for your child or you. You’ll find mostly easy on-the-stomach foods – cereal, graham crackers, jello, applesauce, ice cream, and popsicles. Lily’s nurse made her a special slushy (which I’m guessing was a smashed popsicle). You can order food up to the room just like normal hospital stays. Having the pantry was handy when I didn’t want to go anywhere or it wasn’t time to order food yet. Meal service doesn’t have all of the little snack items that were available in the pantry.
Child Life specialists will bring games and activities to your room to help entertain your child. My daughter mostly just watched TV the first few days because she didn’t have the energy to do much more. We were in the hospital on Halloween, so they did a special reverse trick-or-treating event for the patients at noon. Staff dressed up and came by the rooms with candy and goodies. Lily was super sad to miss Halloween trick-or-treating at home, but all of the treats she received almost made up for it.
It was important for Lily to get up and walk around. She had no desire to do so. Her nurses encouraged her to visit different locations in the children’s area. The large aquarium was her first stop. Be sure to count the fish while you’re there. Can you find Dory and Nemo?
Another spot to visit is the waiting area for the Pediatric ICU. It has a pinball machine, foosball, hockey, and pong. Lily visited this area on more than one occasion. There’s also a vending machine, microwave, and a basket of snacks.
The Ronald McDonald Family Room was being renovated during our stay. It is another place to rest and relax away from your child’s room. Take a tour of the Family Room here.
Across the hall from the Family Room is the Child Life area, or what the staff calls the Playroom. There are train tables, LEGO bricks, puzzles, games, and a plethora of other toys. They also have art and craft supplies. Grab a coloring sheet or create your own art.
Lily painted a wooden frog puzzle. Local Girl Scout troops have donated mini craft kits as well.
The doctors, nurses, and other staff were amazing. I am so grateful for their care during our stay and after we got home. We had 24-hour access to the surgeon team after we got home. They told us to call any time with questions or if there was an issue. Lily started running a slight fever the second day she was home. We called multiple times and they talked us through everything each time. They were very responsive and made us feel at ease.