When You Feel Helpless at the Hospital

Taking your child to the hospital for a procedure, whether surgery or a simple blood draw, can be daunting, and things don’t always go as planned.

My Story

In June 2013, my son was given anesthesia during a MRI. He was expected to lay still for about an hour, and at age 7, that was simply not possible while he was awake. This was not our first rodeo. In fact, the March prior, the exact same testing with anesthesia was done at the same hospital, so I had no concerns when we arrived.

However, the procedure was not handled the way I expected. My son became scared, and I felt helpless. Upon arriving home, I immediately contacted someone at the hospital and began voicing my concerns. I became his advocate.

The helplessness I felt fueled my decision to serve on the Family Advisory Council as a patient advocate. I want to alleviate that feeling for other parents. Often the concerns stem from an expectation that a parent has about a procedure, or a prior experience that is believed to be the standard operating procedure, or a simple change in protocols. In my particular experience, there was a balance between safety and comfort, and different doctors balance this in different ways.

Working with Patients and Providers

As a patient advocate, I facilitate the communication to clear up confusion and bring about change. I am able to help the parent address their concerns to the proper department in a way that brings about solutions or change.  In the end, I believe this is truly what a parent wants. No experience can be undone, but if the issues can be addressed so that the experience will be different for the next child, then there is empowerment. We are no longer helpless.

Just as important, working with parents who have encountered that same sense of helplessness has helped me to mend from my own experience. With helplessness comes a feeling of being utterly alone in the fight. As a patient advocate, I quickly learned that I am not alone, but surrounded by parents who are experiencing many of the same things. My child’s struggles, and my own, were put into perspective, and there is a feeling of being part of a larger, stronger group. I am also able to learn from the experiences of others, and of course, I gain the benefit of the resolution they receive from working through the problem with staff.

Additionally, as a patient advocate, I have the benefit of working with hospital staff and hearing their viewpoint.  ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital promotes Patient and Family Centered Care (PFCC). All staff are trained in this ideology upon hire, and understand that it is expected.

When families bring their concerns to light, and staff are given the opportunity to address it; generally, the issue will be resolved for the better.

It’s empowering to meet with patients and hospital staff to make a difference. Perspective is usually the key. When families bring their concerns to light, and staff are given the opportunity to address it; generally, the issue will be resolved for the better.

I’m very proud of some of the recent accomplishments we’ve implemented through the Family Advisory Council, such as an improved emergency center for children with special needs.

Learn more about how ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital works with patients and families to improve the hospital experience. No patient or parent should ever feel helpless.

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.