Can I stay with my child while he/she is at Mary Free Bed?
We make it as easy as possible for you and your child to spend time together. For most, this includes a very open and inclusive philosophy of parent involvement in all aspects of the child’s rehabilitation process. There are some situations in which the prescribed treatment may call for a more structured approach to family involvement to achieve the best outcome, such as for complex pain disorders. In either case, the treating team will discuss the treatment approach with you and assist in sorting out a plan for parental involvement that best meets the child’s needs.
All of our rooms are equipped with a sofa that converts to a comfortable bed to accommodate one parent overnight at the child’s bedside. Your child’s nurse may have to visit the room throughout the night to provide the best possible care. Talk to the nursing staff if you have questions about what to expect when bunking with your child overnight.
Other local lodging choices available to you and your family include:
• Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan, 1323 Cedar St., Grand Rapids – This nearby house can function as your home away from home. It’s a comfortable space open to both you and your child’s siblings. A shuttle service can transport you between the house and Mary Free Bed – you won’t even have to worry about traffic or parking.
• The inn at Mary Free Bed, on campus – These affordable, on-site rooms are available on a limited basis to families like yours.
• Nearby hotels – There are a number of accessible Grand Rapids hotel rooms conveniently located near the hospital.
The nurse liaison who assisted with your child’s pre-admission process or our pediatric social worker can help you decide what works best for your child and family. He or she also can help make arrangements with the lodging you choose.
When am I allowed to visit my child and can I be there for therapy?
Parents are not considered “visitors” at Mary Free Bed. You’re free to be with your child whenever you’d like, with few exceptions.
In most cases, your child’s rehabilitation team will welcome and encourage you to become involved in your child’s therapy. There are a few situations, though, when your child’s pediatric team may put a more structured visitation schedule into place. This is done only when it’s in your child’s best interests. For example, closed therapy may be the best choice if your child is undergoing therapy for a complex pain disorder, or there are special legal situations to consider. Your child’s team will talk to you about this and establish a schedule that will help your child get the most out of his or her therapy.
Depending on your child’s age, bedtime routines may begin anytime between 7:30 and 9:30 pm. We know that this can be a treasured bonding time for you and your child, with beloved rituals, like story time, singing lullabies or other nightly routines. Talk to your child’s nurse about what you may be able to do to be involved in your child’s nighttime care routine.
Can my other children come visit their sibling at Mary Free Bed?
Yes! Your child’s siblings are more than welcome to visit their brother or sister. The best time for that is between 4 and 8 pm. Young children should be accompanied and supervised by an adult at all times. For safety considerations, siblings who are 18 years or younger are generally not permitted to room with a brother or sister.
We understand that the hospital environment can be a little intimidating and unfamiliar to a child. Brothers and sisters of hospitalized children have emotional and adjustment needs of their own. We have a wonderful child life specialist who can offer activities, support, guidance and encouragement to help address their needs. The child life specialist can offer resources to connect them with other children who have a sick, injured or hospitalized sibling and can assist them in understanding how to interact with their injured brother or sister. Your child’s recreation therapist may even invite siblings or friends to join in community outings. This can be a great icebreaker.
Are extended family members and friends allowed to visit my child?
We welcome family friends and other relatives to visit your child during his or her stay. We have a few guidelines to help your child get the most out of rehabilitation:
• Visiting hours for family friends and extended family are generally between 4 to 8 pm, depending on your child’s therapy schedule.
• Extended visiting hours may be available on weekends.
• Therapies are provided for those who require it, but we try to protect Sundays for family time, leisure activities and rest as much as possible.
Visiting hours may be adjusted to ensure your child is getting plenty of rest.
How long will my child have to stay in inpatient rehabilitation?
Every child is different and your child’s recovery time may vary significantly from another young patient with a similar illness or injury. Your child’s length of stay depends on many factors, like the severity of his or her condition, the specific goals, the rate of progress and even the availability of continued therapies after graduation from the inpatient hospital phase of rehabilitation. Your child’s rehabilitation team will talk with you about a timeline based on the circumstances unique to your child.
Who will be involved in my child’s treatment and care?
Your child will be cared for by a dedicated team of experts who work exclusively with children and teens. This group of professionals typically includes pediatric rehabilitation doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, psychologists, the child life specialist, dietitians, technicians and other specialists as needed depending on what’s most helpful for your child. This may include a teacher, orthotist, equipment specialist, spiritual advisor and more. Parents, too, play an important role throughout the rehabilitation process. While being “mom” or “dad” comes first, there are many aspects of care and exercise that parents will be involved in. You will have many opportunities to meet and form connections with the people who’ll play an important role in your child’s rehabilitation.
What will my child be doing every day?
Your child’s rehabilitation team works together to develop and adapt an individualized plan. This plan is unique to your child and may be different than it is for another patient with a similar injury or in the same age range.
Every day will begin much like it does at home – with morning routines such as brushing teeth and getting cleaned up, getting dressed and eating breakfast. Any member of the team may be involved in the morning routines. Morning is also a time when medications are given and other special nursing care needs are addressed. The pediatric rehabilitation doctor does a daily check-up each morning.
Therapies are spread throughout the morning and afternoon with breaks as needed for rest, meals, snacks and even for play or leisure. Therapy comes first and our pediatric therapists know how to incorporate fun, play and sports into therapy. But kids also need time to just be kids! Our pediatric unit has treatment gyms and social spaces designed just for kids or teenagers. The child life specialist brings fun into the hospital. There are a wide variety of games and activities available in the social spaces including air hockey, the Wii Fun Station and more. Recreational therapy takes place everywhere – even out in the community. For many of our pediatric patients, the swimming pool, visits with therapy pets and recreation outings are favorite parts of their stay.
Rest assured, your child will have time to play, socialize and interact with family, friends and other young children or teenage patients. We’ve even designated Sundays for family, social and leisure time. We try to keep therapies to a minimum on that day.
Will my child be around people his or her own age?
Kids want to be around other children and teenagers want to be around other teenagers, especially those who have similar challenges. Your child or teen will be in a dedicated pediatric and adolescent unit where he or she can be around other kids or teens on a daily basis.
While our private rooms are great for quiet rest and relaxation, there are many opportunities and spaces where they can hang out with other pediatric or adolescent patients. We have laptops that your child can use to Skype with friends. Our recreational therapists even arrange to meet up with your child’s friends at favorite local hangouts like the mall, movies, restaurants, parks and fishing spots. Parents tell us this is an important feature of their son’s or daughter’s rehabilitation experience. Our new hospital also has wonderful spaces where parents can gather with other parents of hospitalized children to share experiences and support.
Can I spend time with my child away from the hospital?
It can be very therapeutic for you and your child to spend time together away from the hospital. This may occur through therapeutic outings with recreational or occupational therapy. You may also request the opportunity to take your son or daughter out on a “pass.” This can be very helpful in preparing you and your child for graduation and life outside the hospital. Your child’s social worker can talk to you about the requirements for day and evening passes and what’s necessary to prepare for a home visit or community outing.
Can I bring home-cooked meals or takeout for my child?
Unfortunately, health regulations do not allow for homemade foods – including baked goods – to be brought in to hospitalized patients. You can, however, bring foods prepared by a licensed restaurant or caterer. Packaged foods purchased at a store also are allowed. We are not permitted to refrigerate leftover food, so please keep this in mind if you bring in a meal from a restaurant for your child or yourself.
If your child has special dietary needs or concerns, please let us know. Your child’s dietitian will work with you and your child’s team to meet your child’s needs. There is a special pediatric menu designed to offer healthy meal choices that have proven to be high on “kid-appeal.” Cafeteria passes may be available to your child as an occasional alternative to meal trays delivered to his or her room. Your child’s nurse, dietitian or nutrition assistant can provide you with more information about cafeteria passes.