Heart Center FAQ
What should I pack? I’d like to be prepared for various types of situations.
Depending on your child’s age, you will likely pack different things. For kids of all ages, we suggest packing button-up or snap pajamas or various types of shirts. Button or snap outfits work great because your child will most likely be hooked up to a monitor and these types of clothing allow for wires/cords to have a place to come out of the shirt or PJs comfortably versus at the top or bottom of the outfit. We recommend about a week's worth of clothing for yourself if you will be staying in the hospital.
For infants, clothing will be limited at first. Blankets work well to keep them warm but be sure to ask your nurse what is appropriate for your baby. In time, you'll be able to dress your baby. Outfits with snaps, button, or kimonos work very well. We recommend packing about 6-8 outfits, depending on how many accidents they might have and how much laundry you would like to do. The hospital has blankets to swaddle your baby, but please feel free to bring your own. You can also bring items to make your infant comfortable, such as a mobile or lovie but the Child Life Department at Children’s Health can assist as well.
Is there a place to do my laundry?
There are two laundry facilities available, one on the 3rd floor outside of the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and another on the Cardiology Floor. Laundry detergent is not provided but the machines are free. Detergent is available for purchase, but the laundry machines accept all detergents so you may bring your own. For out-of-town families if you are staying at The Ronald McDonald House, laundry facilities are available there, as well
Is there a place to store food, such as a refrigerator or pantry-type storage?
On the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (D3), all food is stored outside of the unit in the Family Pantry Room. This room is available to our families and provides a refrigerator, microwave, vending machine, water, ice and coffee. All items left in the refrigerator will need to be labeled. There is no pantry space unfortunately.
On the Cardiology Floor (C8), there are two kitchenettes, each with a refrigerator where you will be able to store food. Microwave, water, ice and can be found in these locations as well.
What other things can I bring to the hospital to make my kids feel comfortable, even at different ages?
Kids are encouraged to bring anything that will make them feel comfortable throughout their hospitalization (only excluding living animals). Whether that is their favorite stuffed animal, blanket, pacifier, favorite toy, or phone or tablet for your older child.
What form of entertainment and toys are available at the hospital for patients? Movies? Games?
Movies: The Get Well Network has a selection of movies downloaded onto the patient televisions. The Children’s movie channels are also available, in both English and Spanish, which play a rotation of movies throughout the day. The hospital Red Box machine has a limited number of movies. Child Life has “movie cards” that allow patients to check out a selection of movies. Patients and families can check out two movies at a time with the movie card. C8 also has a movie cabinet that families on both C8 and D3 can utilize.
Games: We have a variety of board games and card games in the playroom. Our unit closets also have a variety of board games ranging from Candy Land to tween/teen games like Battleship. The Heart Center also has 1 portable X-Box 360 game system, 1 Wii system, and 1 combo X-Box 360 and Wii game system. Patients can check out two X-Box 360 games at a time from the C8 playroom. All Wii games are loaded onto the game system. We try to utilize the gaming systems for patients on isolation or in the CVICU that are unable to utilize the playrooms. In the C8/D8 playrooms, we have an X-Box 360 system, PS3 system, and Wii system. In the Zone playroom, we have X-Box 1 systems.
Toys: We have a unit closet that is stocked with toys and activities ranging from infant to teens.
- Infants: Bumbos, Swings, bouncy seats, Momaroos, Boppy Pillows, rattles, light up/music toys, soothers, mobiles, exersaucers, push toys.
- Toddler/Preschool/School Age: cause and effect toys, light up/music toys, playsets, play tables, baby dolls, doll houses, arts and crafts, coloring, puzzles, bubbles, Play-doh
- Teens: Adult coloring pages, arts and crafts, board games, video game systems, puzzles
Playrooms: Our several playrooms available throughout the hospital and they also have the items mentioned above. We have a designated infant area in each playroom that gives infants a safe place to explore their environment.
Entertainment: We often have special events in playrooms and in the Butterfly Atrium that patients, parents, and siblings can attend, as long as patient is not on isolation precautions. The medical team will need to approve your child leaving the unit. Parents and siblings of D3 patients can also attend these events as long as the patient is not on precautions. During some special events, patients are able to receive a room visit from the group/team/star that has come to visit. Please speak with you Child Life Specialist if you have questions or want more information.
Is there a local support group with other people like me who are going through something similar?
Yes, there is a local support group called Mended Little Hearts of Dallas. It is a branch of the national organization, Mended Little Hearts and is a support program for parents of children with heart defects and heart disease. Mended Little Hearts offers resources and a caring support network as families find answers and move forward to find healing and hope. Mended Little Hearts of Dallas has peer-to-peer support, monthly family gatherings, inpatient hospital visits, Bravery Bags, and various other activities and programs to support our families during all stages of their CHD journey. They would love to hear your story and get to know you better. Please check them out on Facebook at: Mended Little Hearts of Dallas
If I'm not feeling like I'm being heard by the medical staff, what should I do? Who can I contact for certain types of concerns? How do we get everyone on the same page?
Your social worker is part of the team to assist you in navigating challenging conversations, advocating for your family’s values and concerns, as well as helping the medical team understand your family’s stressors and or coping skills. A conversation with your social worker about your concerns may be a good place to start and together you can create a plan in how to navigate these challenges.
What are the expectations (including hidden/unspoken expectations) for me as a parent while she's in the hospital?
The hospital can be an intimidating place. Your child’s hospital room will often be a revolving door of physicians, nurses and other medical staff. We want you to feel comfortable interacting with every person who comes in your child’s room-to know who they are and what they are there to do. This will help you understand the plan-of-care for your child, and to be able to advocate for his or her needs.
Your bedside nurse can help you know how you can be involved in your child’s daily care. Letting him or her know what you would like to do (for example: diaper changes, feeding, holding) can help the two of you set up a plan for the day that involves your goals.
Every morning there are medical rounds. While in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (D3), these are done at the bedside. You are invited to participate in these rounds, to hear the discussion between members of the medical team, and to speak up regarding your own questions or concerns. The Surgeons typically round on D3 first and then move to C8. On the Cardiology Floor (C8), medical rounds are conducted in a conference room. The medical team will come to the bedside in the morning to exam your child and your bedside nurse will attend round, if you have questions, concerns, or need to provide additional information we encourage parents to communicate those with your provider or nurse to help assist with the daily plan.
We recognize every patient and family is different, some parents have to work, or have other children or other stressors that they have to deal with while their child is in the hospital, so we encourage open communication among us all too hopefully ease any additional stress.