Hospital Stay Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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

Your health care 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 breast milk. 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?

Yes! Each patient room has a sleeping area for a parent or primary caregiver. Learn more about where to stay.

How will information be communicated?

During your child's hospital stay, he or she will be cared for by a team of health care professionals. Every morning, the team meets in your child'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 health care team can update you at another time and answer any questions.

Where can I get food?

  • The Patient and Family Kitchen provides free coffee, ice, water, fruit, snack bars, and other donated food items.
  • The cafeteria at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center provides patients, visitors, and staff with a variety of nutritious food options. Weekly menus are available on the Cafeteria page.
  • The Center Court at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center offers snacks, sandwiches, bakery items, pizza, pasta, salads, and many other options at Cravin's Country Market & Deli, Au Bon Pain, and Sbarro.
  • Breastfeeding mothers can receive a complimentary food tray delivered to their child's room for all meals.

Where can I go for a break?

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.

  • Molly's Place 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 the hospital. It is located on the campus of Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.
  • The Chapel: Provides a quiet space for prayer, reflection, and meditation on a 24-hour basis.
  • Outdoor gardens and walking paths: 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 us. Learn more about the Fuel the Care program.

Can I check in with my child 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. To ensure patient privacy, each family will receive a secure code that they will be required to provide prior to speaking with the patient or receiving information. If you haven't received a contact information card, please ask a team member.

What should I know about my child's room?

Our rooms provide a range of features and services for your child's comfort and safety. Learn about telephones, televisions, internet access, meals, and more about your child's hospital room:

How do you ensure patient 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 health care professionals and visitors must wash their hands with soap and hot water or use 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 workers 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 normal activities help children cope with hospitalization. We provide age-appropriate materials 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. We also offer 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