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How you should prepare yourself

Transitioning your child to another hospital can be overwhelming and somewhat difficult for the whole family. Blythedale’s expert and compassionate staff can help make the transition easier for your child, you and your family.

You and your child will become an important part of a multi-disciplinary treatment team at Blythedale. Together with our doctors, nurses, therapists, social worker and other professionals, we will help your child meet their treatment and rehabilitation goals, maximize their potential and return to your family and community as soon as possible.

A social worker is assigned to every child and family who receives care at Blythedale. Your social worker will assist you as you navigate the vast array of resources available to you from admission to discharge. They can provide assistance as you transition to the Hospital, work with the rest of the treatment team, and connect to agencies and services that might be of help to you. Social workers can be a great resource to you throughout your stay. For more information, you may contact Susan Murray, L.C.S.W., Director of Social Work, at (914) 831-2443 or via email.

One parent may stay at their child’s bedside. We have in-room options and a separate Parent Housing building, depending on your needs. Please speak with your social worker for more information.

What to Bring
When your child comes to stay at Blythedale, please remember to bring the following:

Important documents. Please bring your child’s birth certificate, social security card, medical insurance or Medicaid card and immunization record when you come to Blythedale.

Seven days worth of clothes for your child, including socks and pajamas. You’ll notice that children at Blythedale wear their everyday clothes. Please write your child’s name on all clothing with an indelible laundry marker.

Photos and a favorite object. Photos of families, friends and pets can be an enormous comfort to your child. You can also bring a favorite blanket or stuffed animal for your child to cuddle. Parents of babies may also bring a special crib mobile. We ask you to limit the number of stuffed animals you bring, so as not to clutter a crib or bed.

What to Leave Home
You should leave valuables like jewelry and personal electronics at home. We cannot be responsible for the loss of any valuables.

Medications. You don’t need to bring any medications with you to Blythedale. We will provide you with everything you need.

Caregiver Training
As part of your stay at Blythedale, you may receive some level of training from our clinical staff in managing your child’s condition or medical equipment. One of our top priorities at Blythedale is to help parents grow and become confident caregivers to their child with complex medical needs. If your child relies on medical technology, such as ventilator, our staff will engage you in a program of education - practically from day one - so that you can become confident and adept in all aspects of ventilator use, from general operations to cleaning the equipment and tubing. For more information, please visit Parent/Caregiver Training.

Advice to Share with Visitors
Visiting friends and family members may want to bring a gift for your child. Mylar balloons are welcome, but latex balloons are prohibited. Please check with your doctor or nurse if food or drink from outside the hospital or flowers may be brought into a patient’s room.

Your Child’s Comfort
There are several other ways that you can help your child remain as comfortable as possible during their time at Blythedale. The Hospital’s Child Life Department has provided the following strategies for you.
Gather information. Know why your child needs a procedure, how the procedure may feel and how long it is likely to last. Consider being with your child during the procedure.

Be honest and sensitive. Explain to your child why they need the procedure and what they can expect to feel, see and hear. Be honest with your child about what might feel comfortable/ uncomfortable. Try to avoid creating undue concern for your child.

Encourage curiosity and exploration. Becoming familiar with the health care facility and understanding the equipment that will be used during treatment or diagnosis is very important to a child. Help your child learn about the purpose of the examination and the medical equipment with which they will come in contact.

Reassure your child. Make sure your child knows that the hospital, doctor’s office or clinic is a place to support health and growth.

Use simple language. When describing a medical procedure try to use words that do not have double meanings which can be threatening. You can use the word "medicine” instead of "dye”, "bed on wheels” or "narrow bed” instead of "stretcher”, etc.

Listen to your child’s concerns. Let your child know that it is okay to ask questions, cry and talk about feelings.

Give your child choices. Allowing children to take a more active role in procedures, such as deciding which finger gets stuck with a needle, or whether they sit on the examining table or on a parent’s lap for an injection can help lessen anxiety related to potentially painful procedures.

Help your child manage pain. Many coping strategies can be used to help reduce anxiety and perceptions of pain or discomfort for your child. You might teach your child that deep, steady breathing can help them cope with discomfort, or let them squeeze your hand and say "ouch!” or "that hurt!” Every child is unique. You may find that distracting your child with books, songs, blowing bubbles, video games or music can promote coping. Other children do best with quiet time, to watch and process the procedure.

Comfort your child. Touching is an important part of healing. If medical needs prevent you from holding or rocking your child, you may still be able to stroke your child or hold their hand.

When appropriate, encourage play. Children learn about their world and how to cope by playing. Play gives children control and a way to work out and understand their feelings. Playing with puppets, painting pictures, telling stories, before and after a procedure are some meaningful ways to teach children about their health-care needs and experiences.

If you have questions about these strategies or about Child Life services at Blythedale, please feel free to contact Senior Child Life Specialist Kelsey Frawley, at (914) 592-7555, ext. 71463.
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