As I have mentioned in previous posts, we live in rural Oregon. Just to make life a little more challenging, our oldest son has a lot of medical issues and frequent surgeries. When you live 2 hours away from your preferred hospital (the non-preferred one is still an hour away) and live on one part-time income, it helps to have some ‘hospital hacks’ in your back pocket.
Because all of his specialists are in one place, I try to combine visits as much as possible if I have to do them in person. I prefer to do virtual visits as much as possible, but with some specialties, that makes sense.
Have to-go bags are always packed and ready to grab on a moment’s notice. If you think there is even a chance you might be hospitalized, take it with you! My to-go bag holds 5 days’ worth of supplies that way I will be ok until my husband can come and restock me. (click here to get my to-go bag checklist)
If you are stuck in the hospital for an extended stay, ask if they have laundry facilities available for families. Ours does and will even provide you with detergent pods so it doesn’t cost you anything. You can also get laundry detergent sheets or travel-size laundry detergent to carry with you.
Ronald McDonald House Charities
If you have an early morning appointment or need to check into surgery early in the day, you might see if there is a Ronald McDonald House near the clinic/hospital you can use. They have eligibility requirements, but if you qualify, staying there is free. It can be short or long-term, depending upon the family’s needs. You can locate their chapters on their website www.rmhc.org.
We have used RMHC twice now and loved it! The rooms are nice and clean and large enough for a wheelchair to navigate fairly easily. The staff has been very helpful, there is a laundry room on each floor and a huge kitchen/dining room where usually dinners have been sponsored for the families.
If your child is admitted to the hospital, it can be a financial burden on the family due to the parent in the hospital having to pay for all their meals. If this describes your family, ask to speak to one of the hospital social workers or case managers and see if they can help. Our preferred hospital has a special fund set up for families and our non-preferred hospital was able to get it covered through nutrition services. As I always say, it can’t hurt to ask.
Hospital social workers can also help you get set up with other safety net programs if you are going to be in the hospital for an extended period of time with your child. If you have the need, be sure to ask. It is more important that you are there taking care of your child than letting your pride prevent you from asking for help if you need it.
One of our hospitals isn’t really set up for families. If you need some coffee, tea, or water to drink, you have to ask a nurse to get it for you. I don’t know about you, but I feel bad about taking a nurse away from her duties to get me something to drink and we all know how dehydrated hospitals can make you. That is why I have a 64 oz insulated wattle bottle similar to this one. It keeps my water cold and will last all day.
If I want a hot drink, I also carry a collapsible hot water pot like this one and can make hot water right in our room for tea, coffee, or instant cereals.
Time in a hospital, even in the best of circumstances, is very stressful. Come prepared with a plan to help you keep your stress levels low enough that you can function.
- See if your hospital has a palliative care team
- See if there is a person of your faith on staff that you can talk to
- Some hospitals will have a meditation room or garden or a chapel
- Set up a schedule with family, friends, or caregivers to come to the hospital and sit with your loved one so you can take a break
- Download a meditation app such as Insight Timer, Calm, or Headspace. These have free accounts available that help with relaxation, meditation, and sleep. There are many other apps out there but these are the ones that I have tried. I love to put on some binaural music to block out all the hospital sounds when trying to sleep
- Bring anti-anxiety/anti-depression medication if you have it. Try something over-the-counter if you don’t.
Keep track of your mileage to and from hospitals and clinics so that they can be used on your taxes. Every little bit helps!
Use medical transport if available. Yes, it’s a pain to not have your own vehicle but it saves you in gas money and wear and tear of your car. And, if you are like me, you need to be able to care for your child during transit, which is hard to do when you are driving.
Help each other out!
I honestly hope you don’t have a child that needs frequent hospitalizations, but if you do, I hope some of these hospital hacks will help you. Us Momma and Poppa Bears have to help each other out! If you have some hacks that you would like to share, please leave them below in the comments.