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Children's Hospital at Dartmouth Hitchcock (CHad)
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Frequently Asked Questions About Your Visit

  • Outpatient Visit
  • Hospital Stay
  • Surgery: Parents' Questions
  • Surgery: Kids' Questions

In all CHaD areas, we believe that patients, parents and caregivers are members of the care team and we value your input.

How can I keep my child busy if there is a long wait or we have a longer appointment?

Every CHaD outpatient, or ambulatory, space is stocked with a variety of toys for different ages for use by any of our CHaD families. Please don't hesitate to ask a member of the CHaD team to help you and they will be happy to bring something into the room or waiting area for you to use with your child. When asking please feel free to let the person know what kind of toys your child likes to typically play with at home. If we have something similar we are happy to bring that item in.

Is my child going to get a needle poke (shots, blood draw, etc.) today?

There is no a clear-cut answer to this question, but that does not mean you shouldn't be able to try to prepare your child ahead of time. As it's important to be honest with your child to make sure trust isn't broken we suggest that you call the office of the provider you will be seeing and ask them directly. Each provider and service has different needs and their office will be best able to answer this question.

What if I can't afford the gas to get my child to his or her appointment?

CHaD offers the Fuel the Care Program for eligible patients and families. Learn more about this program on the CHaD Family Center / Molly's Place website.

Where can we go to get food?

All of CHaD ambulatory clinics either have food/snacks onsite or within walking distance. Please ask the day of your appointment or feel free to call ahead of time if you need help assistance finding food for the day of your appointment.

Can we bring snacks and drinks that we can eat in the exam rooms?

Food and drinks are only allowed in the exam rooms and during your appointment if:

  1. Your child isn't fasting for any tests or procedures.
  2. The area you are in does not specify that you cannot have food or drink in that area. There are places in the clinics and hospital where food is not permitted, sometimes because those around you are not allowed to eat and it would not be fair to them.

Can I bring items from home such as toys, comfort items, etc. for my child?

Absolutely! It is actually very helpful for you to bring items your child is familiar with and finds comforting for their visit with the doctor. This will help ease any stress and decrease any anxiety your child may be feeling. Good items to bring are special blankets, stuffed animals, and favorite toys. Depending on the appointment favorite DVDs or music can also be helpful.

What if I already know that my child has a really hard time when at the doctor's office?

If your child has had a difficult time at the doctor's office in the past and you think his or her upcoming appointment will be challenging, please don't hesitate to contact the child life office. The child life team will be able to discuss your child and his or her upcoming appointment with you to develop a plan to work to help make the appointment more successful. When you call please specify which location (i.e. Lebanon, Manchester, Nashua, etc.) and service (i.e. cardiology, gastroenterology, pulmonology, general pediatrics, etc.) you will be seeing.

We are here to help. Please let us know if you have any additional questions in preparation for your child's visit.

Contact the child life program

In all CHaD areas, we believe that patients, parents and caregivers are members of the care team and we value your input.

How can I take part in my child's comfort?

Your healthcare team can help guide you in appropriate ways and times to continue caring for your child while he or she is a patient. Here are some examples of things that you can do:

  • Bring in special toys, blankets, books, music, or movies.
  • Personalize the room with pictures, cards, and notes of well wishes.
  • Help with feeding, bathing, and changing your child's diapers. Please ask your nurse before throwing away diapers. Some diapers are weighed for medical reasons.
  • Share information about your child. Some examples include: ideas to help calm your child, what causes your child stress, how your child communicates, and your child's favorite music.
  • Continue to provide your infant breastmilk. A hospital grade pump and supplies are available. Appropriately labeled breast milk can be stored in the designated refrigerator.

Can I stay with my child?

Each patient room has a sleeping area for a parent or primary caregiver. Learn more about where to stay at CHaD/DHMC.

How will information be communicated?

During your child's hospital stay, he or she will be cared for by a team of healthcare professionals. Every morning, the team meets in each patient's room to review progress, discuss treatments, and develop care plans. These meetings are called "rounds". Families are an important part of the care team and are encouraged to participate in rounds. Rounds are a good time to ask questions and to tell the team about your child. If you are unable or prefer not to participate in rounds, a member of the healthcare team can update you at another time and answer any questions.

Taking Care of Yourself

Having a child in the hospital is stressful. It is important to continue to care for yourself so that you can be present for your child.

Where can I get food?

  • Patient and Family Kitchen: Coffee, ice, water, fruit, snack bars and other donated food items are available in this space for free.
  • Cafeteria
  • Au Bon Pain, SBarro, and Cravin's Deli and Market
  • Breastfeeding mothers can receive a complimentary food tray delivered to the room for all meals.

Where can I go for a break?

  • Molly's Place: This space has a lending library, computer and printer for use, information on area resources, and a play area for siblings.
  • David's House: Offers a comfortable home away from home for families of children receiving care at CHaD. It is located on the campus of DHMC.
  • The Chapel: Provides a quiet space for prayer, reflection, and meditation on a 24-hour basis.
  • Outdoor gardens and trails: Available for those who would like to spend time outdoors.

How can I afford travel costs?

Gas cards are available for families who require travel to CHaD. Learn more about the Fuel the Care program.

Can I check in by phone?

If you are unable to be present at the hospital, you are welcome to call the unit at any time for an update or to talk with your child. Each family will receive a secure code that they will be required to provide prior to speaking with the patient or receiving information to ensure patient privacy. If you haven't received a contact information card, please ask a team member.

How do you ensure safety?

The safety of our patients is our highest priority. Pediatric inpatient units are locked to ensure patient safety. All family members and visitors must use the intercom to be granted access to the unit. If your child is under one year old, he or she will have an infant security band in place throughout their stay.

How do you prevent infections?

As sick and injured children are so vulnerable, it is very important that anyone who has a cold, fever, vomiting or diarrhea not visit the unit. A parent or guardian who has a cold may be able to visit, but will be required to wear a mask. Hand washing is a top priority to prevent the spread of infection. All healthcare professionals and visitors must wash their hands with soap and hot water or use the alcohol-based sanitizer upon entering and leaving patient rooms.

What resources are available for families?

  • Chaplains are available to support the emotional, spiritual and religious needs of patients and their families.
  • Social Work and Nurse Care Managers are available to help you connect with supportive resources both during your child's hospital stay and after you go home.
  • Child life specialists focus on the psychosocial and developmental needs of children to prepare for medical experiences and promote coping strategies.

What will my child be able to do?

Developmentally supportive play and the promotion of normal activities help children cope with hospitalization. Age appropriate materials are available to encourage normal growth and development during the hospital stay. Play mats, toys, books, music, movies, electronic games, arts and crafts and iPads are available for patient and sibling use. Wireless access is available. CHaD also offers community-based entertainment and seasonal special events.

We are here to help. Please let us know if you have any additional questions in preparation for your child's visit.

Contact the child life program

Questions Parents May Ask

How do I explain what is surgery to my child?

"When something inside your body needs to be fixed or checked."

How do I explain anesthesia (an-es-thee-zee-uh) to my child?

"Anesthesia is medicine that helps you sleep during surgery, so that you do not see, hear or feel the surgery."

How will my child receive anesthesia?

There are two ways to get anesthesia medicine, one is by wearing a mask and breathing the medicine in as an air (gas), the other is by getting an I.V. Most children under the age of 13 years are able to use a mask to get anesthesia, and most children 13 years and older require an I.V. Oftentimes some numbing medication can be used so that your child does not feel the needle poke when getting the I.V. You and your child's anesthesiologist will work together to create the safest and best plan for your child.

How do I explain the I.V. to my child?

"An I.V. is a tiny plastic straw that goes in your hand or your arm and allows your body to 'drink' the medicine. In order for the straw to get into the right place, there is a small poke with a needle."

How do I talk to my child about pain?

"Sometimes kids feel a little sore after something in their body is fixed. They have medicine that will help you if you feel sore."

You and your child's healthcare team will work together to help your child be as comfortable as possible. After surgery it is common to have some pain and discomfort, but our goal is to make sure that the pain is minimal and that your child is comfortable enough to rest and heal.

Will I be able to stay with my child?

Some children benefit from having a trusted family member by their side as they go to sleep for surgery. You and your child's anesthesiologist will work together to create the safest and best plan for your child. If your child is staying overnight after surgery, each inpatient room has a sleeping area for a parent or primary caregiver.

Can I bring items from home such as toys, comfort items, etc. for my child?

Absolutely! It is actually very helpful for you to bring items your child is familiar with and finds comforting for their surgery. This will help ease any stress and decrease any anxiety your child may be feeling. Good items to bring are special blankets, stuffed animals, favorite toys, DVDs or music.

Should I bring food for my child?

For your child's safety, your child should not have anything to eat the morning of surgery. Your child may have clear liquids such as, water or apple juice, until two hours before his or her surgery. Some light snacks will be provided to your child after surgery, as long as their surgeon states that this is okay. Food and drinks that we provide include: juice, water, goldfish crackers, saltine crackers, graham crackers and popsicles. If your child has a specialized diet or particular favorite foods, please consider bringing them with you for after surgery. If your child is still nursing or bottle fed, please bring your child's formula or breastmilk as well as their bottle or sippy cup. If you are breastfeeding you may wish to bring a breast pump with you. Private space can be provided if you need to pump while your child is in surgery.

What time do I need to arrive at the hospital for my child's surgery?

On the last business day before your child's surgery, a nurse will call you to tell you what time you and your child should arrive for surgery. During this call, the nurse will also give you directions on where to park, discuss eating and drinking restrictions, and provide any additional instructions you may need for your child's particular surgery. This is also a good opportunity for you to get any last minute questions answered.

Tips for Parents and Caregivers

  • Keep calm - When parents are calm, kids are calmer too!
  • Be honest - Children do best when they are told the truth and are prepared. Offer your child age appropriate information. For young children, keep things simple, but answer their questions and concerns truthfully.
  • Ask questions - By asking questions and learning all that you need to know, you are better prepared to answer your child's questions too.
  • Take care of yourself - You know your child best and are his or her biggest support. The best thing you can do for your child is to take care of you so that you are fully present to help your child when he or she needs you most.

How will I know where my child's surgery will be done?

Your child's surgeon will inform you if he or she feels your child is a good candidate to have his or her surgery done at the Outpatient Surgery Center (OSC).

Can I be with my child until he or she is asleep?

One parent/guardian/caregiver over the age of 18 may be present with children over the age of 12 months as they fall asleep, unless otherwise determined by the anesthesiologist. Although this option is offered, parents are not required to be present as their child falls asleep.

What can I expect to see as my child goes off to sleep with anesthesia?

Every sedation/anesthesia experience is a little different. As children become sleepy from anesthesia, some simply close their eyes and fall asleep smoothly, while others enter a stage of excitement before drifting off to sleep.

During the "excitement stage," children are already asleep enough that they do not have control of their movements and don't remember this phase. Children may move their arms or legs. Their movements can range from gentle to more forceful, and some appear "seizure-like." Some appear dizzy, breathe noisily or cough. You may also see unusual eye movements such as eye rolling. This may be upsetting to see, but be assured that this is all very normal during this stage of anesthesia.

Your child will become limp as he or she relaxes into a very deep sleep. Once your child is asleep, you may kiss or gently touch your child before you are escorted to the same-day waiting area.

Can I be with my child during the entire procedure?

Parents are not permitted to remain present during a procedure while a child is anesthetized. The anesthesia team and procedure providers must focus solely on your child to provide the best care possible. While parental support during the pre- and post-procedural time is extremely important, it is not a benefit to your child while he or she is asleep. It is always a concern that a parent may begin to feel faint and require medical attention, which would detract from the care of your child.

My child takes medicines. Can I give them as directed?

In general, medicines can be taken as scheduled with a sip of water. However, staff will call each family one business day prior to the child's scheduled appointment to discuss medicines, and how and when to give them.

What happens if my child has a cold or fever?

If your child has cold symptoms, you should contact the Pediatric Perioperative Program directly at (603) 650-4355. Mild cold symptoms in an otherwise healthy child may not necessarily indicate a need to reschedule the appointment. Symptoms that are concerning include, but are not limited to:

  • A productive cough (coughing something up)
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Having a decrease in normal activity tolerance

Although the assessment of your pediatrician provides helpful information, the final determination is made by the anesthesiologist whether it is safe to proceed with the scheduled appointment.

How will my child awaken from anesthesia?

Everyone's experience is a little different, but in general, children tolerate anesthesia and sedation very well. Some children will wake quickly and may be awake before their families arrive to see them. Other children may remain sleeping for several minutes or hours from the effects of the anesthesia.

Some children may thrash, cry, seem inconsolable, and have difficulty recognizing familiar objects or people. This behavior is not usually related to pain and typically children do not remember it. This wake up is known as "emergence delirium" and will pass with time.

Please do not wake your child. In our experience, children often have a gentler and more comfortable wake up when they wake on their own.

How will my child be after sedation/anesthesia?

It is rare that children vomit afterwards, although it does happen on occasion. With certain procedures (such as tonsillectomies) it is relatively common.

Children will not have their usual balance and coordination after sedation/anesthesia. Although young children may be persistent in wanting to walk on their own, it is unsafe for them to do so for several hours after their procedure.

You should avoid having your child do anything that may require coordination or quick response the rest of the day after receiving sedation/anesthesia. Please have your child avoid activities such as:

  • Walking up or down stairs
  • Riding a bike/skateboard/ATV
  • Swimming
  • Using playground equipment

Need more information?

Questions Kids May Ask

'Will I wake up during surgery?

Sleep with anesthesia is a different kind of sleep, it is not the kind of sleep where you will wake up on your own. There are people whose job it is to make sure that your body is asleep, comfortable, and safe until the doctor is finished with your surgery. After your surgery, their job is to also make sure that you wake up.

'Will I die?'

There are people whose job it is to help make sure you are comfortable, asleep, and safe throughout the surgery. Their job is also to help make sure that you wake up.

'Can I bring my stuffed animal (blanket, favorite matchbox car...) to the Operating Room?'

Yes! You can definitely bring one or two items that are special to you to the Operating Room– please try to remember to wash your blanket before you bring it with you and to only bring those items that will be easy to carry.

'Can only girl doctors and nurses (or boy doctors and nurses) be in the room during my surgery?'

Everyone who works here has been specially trained especially in their job to help you. All of the staff will be as professional, respectful, and gentle as they can. Unfortunately, we cannot promise that it will be only boys or girls.

'Will it hurt?'

Part of the job of the anesthesia provider is to help make sure that your body stays comfortable, asleep and safe during surgery.

We want you to know that we do our best to be as honest as we can in answering this question; but we also want to remember that each person is different with how they respond to pain or hurt. Your job is to help let us know how you are feeling so that we can help you. When you wake up, if you are feeling pain or hurt, please tell a nurse or doctor so that we can help.