What to Pack for Your Child’s Emergency Room Visit

Boy playing video games in a hospital

On a Friday afternoon, while at work, I received a call from my son’s daycare. His breathing “wasn’t right.” I flew to the daycare, which was luckily less than a mile away. My son, who was two at the time, had woke up from his nap with croup. You could hear the air traveling in and out of his throat because his throat was swelling and closing. An ambulance was called and he was transported to the hospital.

This was not our first rodeo. We knew what the afternoon would bring. Each person that treated my child would ask the same questions: Medications? Allergies? Diagnoses? Primary care physician? Insurance? While these individuals worked to make sure my child continued to breathe, he was still in need of the basics: diapers, change of clothes, snacks and something to help him stay calm while being treated.

Parents of children with a chronic illness must be prepared to leave for the hospital on any day, at any hour. A “Go Bag” is needed.

After my son’s first middle-of-the-night run to the emergency room at four months old, I began keeping a Go Bag for him. Whenever we left the house, the Go Bag came with us. If he stayed with his grandparents, the Go Bag stayed with him. It is stocked with the essentials for a four or more hour stay in the emergency center and the information medical personnel need at their fingertips.

Filling Your “Go Bag”

Each physician, nurse, tech, therapist, and aid will ask the same basic questions when they enter your child’s room: Medications? Allergies? Diagnoses? Surgeries? Primary care physician? These questions are being asked at a time when you need to be focused on calming your child and it can become frustrating. A Personal Medical Record form (PMR) can provide this information to the medical professionals quickly and allow you to focus on the needs of your child. Click here to learn more about a PMR and how to create your own.

Additionally, every Go Bag needs food and clothing. First, bring an extra set of clothes, including under items. I like to pack pajamas for comfort. Hospital visits can often result in clothes getting wet, sticky or just uncomfortable. Also, the emergency center can be much cooler (or the stress can make it seem so), so warm clothes are often needed, even during summer. Additionally, pack some snacks. Inevitably, the hospital visit will occur just before a meal. Once the initial treatment is over, you play the waiting game, and many times the child is allowed to eat. Although most emergency centers have vending machines, they are not always stocked well or even working correctly. If you have a young one who uses formula, remember to pack it so they get the nutrients they need.

Be Prepared

Learn what to expect during your emergency visit at ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital.

Read More

Finally, the Go Bag needs comfort. For my son, this is Toby Bear and an iPad, fully charged. Pack items that will allow your child to sit comfortably for several hours and will distract your child during medical procedures. For my son, an iPad can whisk him away to another world, and for many procedures, he will not even be aware something is happening. Be sure if your child’s distraction is electronic that it is fully charged. The beds are not always close to outlets that can be used.

The Go Bag is a necessary tool for any child that frequently visits the hospital. It will be comfort to the child and peace of mind to you.

Aurora Dayne is the chairperson of the Family Advisory Council at ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital where she works to foster communication and relationships between patients, their families and caregivers.

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