HOW TO: Provide a little TLC for families in the hospital

Being in the hospital for any reason can be difficult! Even when we went to Shady Grove Hospital in the wee hours of the morning so we could welcome Bill into the world (15 years ago!), I was struck with pangs of homesickness and discomfort, and very glad when I could go back to my cozy bed and familiar surroundings.

Most likely, there is at least one child or teen in your communitiy or church who is a  hospital “frequent flier;” chronic illnesses often necessitate hospital stays. Similarly, we have all known families who have been struck with a sudden, life-changing illness or accident. When Annie was in the hospital, we were overwhelmed with our new surroundings and struggled to make sense of all that was happening. Thanks to some very thoughtful, kind friends and family, we received some items that made life much easier for us. Below is a list of “comfort items” that might make the hospital experience a little easier for someone you know:

  • Spiral notebook with pocket folder: Very helpful for jotting down notes from doctors’ rounds as well as questions. The pocket folder is a great place to stash doctors’ business cards and prescriptions
  •  Binder or accordian folder: A catch-all for filing insurance forms, print outs, treatment information, medication lists, discharge instructions. It’s nice to have a place to put all of this.
  • Progress journal: a place to write down the GOOD stuff that happens each day…
  • Healthy snacks (nuts, trail mix, etc.)
  • Home baked goodies (hospital food gets really old REALLY fast!)
  • “Good” tissues (the hospital brands are a bit hard on the nose…and there are days where the tears flow constantly!)
  • Good smelling lotion (because hospital soap can smell a bit yucky)
  • Not pictured, but also helpful: bags of tea, cash for vending machines/parking/cafeteria, a flannel pillowcase.

Assemble your little bag of tender loving care in a pretty package. Have your 15 year-old assist you…

…and then head down to the hospital to drop it off. If you would like to see the patient and family, It’s always best to call before you visit; patients who are in the hospital are very busy with therapies, procedures and getting better (which means lots of rest!) Parents of kids in the hospital are making decisions, learning new information and working hard to keep their child comfortable, all while caring for other children and maintaining jobs and homes. Therefore, a “surprise” visit is not advisable…however, you can always leave your package at the nurses station or visitor’s desk, and a volunteer or staff member will be pleased to deliver it for you. Make sure that the patient’s name is well-marked on your gift to make delivery easier!

Spreading comfort and joy~

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