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Before Your Visit

Coming to the medical center for a procedure, treatment, or stay can be stressful. To help make things less hectic here are some things to make your arrival and check-in go smoothly.

Planning ahead

Please be sure to contact your managed care provider with questions about your insurance coverage, co-payments or deductibles. You should also call your doctor's office if you have questions about your procedure, treatment or your arrival time. In addition, please complete all forms provided by your doctor's office.

We also suggest that you gather the following information to bring to your child's appointment (it can be easy to forget these things when trying to leave home for the medical center):

  • Your photo identification and insurance card(s)
  • Paperwork for referrals, authorizations and doctor's orders

You may also be asked to print and complete the following agreements and policy forms and bring them with you:

Prior to your visit, you may be contacted by a patient registration representative regarding benefit information for your service. We may also contact you if we need to validate and collect further information.

There may be additional paperwork to complete when you arrive for your appointment, so make sure to arrive early. Planning your route, knowing where your appointment is located and where to park will save you time.

Get maps, directions and parking information here

When you arrive at the medical center

Please check-in at Patient Registration on the day of your appointment to complete the registration process and receive directions to your appointment location. We recommend that you arrive at least 15 minutes early to ensure that you have time to complete all the necessary steps.

What to bring for overnight stays

What to bring for an overnight stay

For your child

  • A favorite blanket
  • Books or magazines
  • Pajamas
  • Games
  • Snacks, depending on your dietary restrictions
  • Stuffed animal or favorite toy
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Hairbrush or comb
  • Socks and/or slippers
  • Comfortable clothing
  • A laptop (Cook Children's Medical Center offers free WiFi)
  • A handheld gaming device
  • A journal or paper and pen or pencil

For you

  • Family and friends' phone numbers
  • Change for vending machines
  • Insurance cards
  • Important documents such as a living will and durable power of attorney
  • A list of child's medications, both prescription and over-the-counter
  • A blanket and pillow
  • Modest sleepwear, slippers and robe
  • Comfortable clothing
  • Snacks
  • Laptop (Cook Children's Medical Center has free WiFi)
  • Toiletries
  • Books and magazines
  • Craft projects, knitting, etc.

Preparing your child for a hospital

Health care situations, including hospitalization and medical procedures, can be stressful for children of all ages. Preparing your child ahead of time might reduce his/her anxiety, as well as help him/her cope.

Providing your child with honest, accurate information will help ease his/her fears and fantasies about what will happen. Talk to your child about the upcoming visit. Give your child a chance to tell you how he/she is feeling and to ask questions. Your child may be worrying about something that will not happen. Being honest with your child will help him/her trust you and the people he/she will meet at the doctor's office or medical center.

The more your child knows about what to expect during the medical visit ahead of time, the more comfortable he/she will be.

  • If your child is under the age of 5, you should talk to him/her a day or two before the experience. Older children need more time to get information and ask questions (e.g., a few days to a week).
  • You may be tempted to tell your child things that are not true. If something will hurt, say so.
  • Be honest. If you do not know the answer to your child's questions, tell your child that you do not know, but that you will find out.
  • Use simple works that your child will understand.
  • Encourage your child to discuss feelings and ask questions about the upcoming experience with you, but be careful not to force a discussion if your child is not ready.

If your child is being admitted to the medical center, the following tips may be helpful in addition to those above.

  • Emphasize that the hospital stay is temporary.
  • Reassure your child that you will visit often and will stay overnight, if that is the case.
  • Pack together for the stay and include the things your child wants to have at Cook Children's. For example, your child may be able to wear their own pajamas.
  • Point out similarities between Cook Children's and home, such as regular meals, chances to play and having one's own bed.
  • Include your entire family in one of your pre-hospital talks.
  • Borrow a library book that describes a hospital stay and read it with your child.
  • Check into tours or preparation programs that we may provide. If your child is having surgery, please visit with your doctor and nurse before the surgery. The Child Life staff is available to help answer any questions you may have about helping your child prepare for hospitalization or surgery. A Child Life specialist can explain what will happen and why, in terms your child will understand. This can be good for you and your child, as well as for brothers and sisters

What to say based on your child's age

Younger than age 3
Your child's greatest concern is being away from you. Being with your child as much as possible during their stay will make your child feel more secure. Younger children, especially those under age 3, often think going to the hospital is a punishment for misbehavior. Explain that this is not the case. Encourage your child to express fears and concerns. Talk to your child in a way that he/she can understand about why the hospital stay is necessary.

Ages 4 to 6
Children in this age group fear damage to their bodies. Be careful when explaining what will take place. Avoid phrases that may have different meanings to a child. For example, your child may connect being put to sleep (when you explain surgical anesthesia) with a pet and think that he or she will die. Instead, say, "The doctors will help you take a nap for a few hours." Or, any another phrase they might better understand. When talking about surgery say, "Make an opening," instead of cut.

Ages 6 to 12
Children older than 6 will worry about losing control and damage to their bodies. Your child may also worry about doing or saying embarrassing things while under anesthesia. Be open. Don't deny that there will be pain after an operation, if this is the case. Explain that although it will hurt for a while, they will be made to feel as comfortable as possible.

Teenagers are often reluctant to ask questions, leading you to believe that they understand more than they actually do. Encourage your teenager to ask the doctors and nurses questions about his or her condition. Include your child in discussions about the care plan for an increased feeling of control.

Step-by-step guide to preparing for surgery

Our goal is to provide a family-centered environment of care by keeping you informed at each step in your child's care – from pre-operative evaluation through discharge. To help you and your child prepare for surgery, please view our Guide to Surgery. You may also print the guide, many parents find this helpful.

If you have any questions, please call us at 682-885-4022.

View and download our surgery guide