During & After Your Child’s Hospital Stay

Though every child and family experiences a hospital stay differently at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital of New York at NYU Langone, we offer some general information that may help your family understand what to expect during and after your child’s procedure.

When You Arrive for Surgery

It’s important that your child's stomach is empty prior to receiving anesthesia for surgery. Please speak with your child’s surgeon regarding when your child can last eat or drink before a procedure. Expect a call from a nurse the night before, so that he or she can review your child’s dietary instructions.

When you arrive, notify the receptionist of your child’s name and doctor’s name. In some of our surgical areas, there are rooms available where children of all ages are welcome to play, read, participate in arts and crafts, and relax prior to surgery. We ask that you do not bring your child to the playroom or waiting area if he or she has a fever or could have a contagious condition.

If a playroom is not available, please speak with your child’s nurse about items available to help distract your child. Consider bringing favorite toys or items from home. On most surgical units, a child life specialist is available to answer questions and assist your child in understanding his or her hospitalization.

The nurse meets with you prior to surgery to take your child’s blood pressure, temperature, and medical history, and to listen to his or her heart. Your child is also given a bracelet with his or her name on it and a hospital gown, hat, and slippers. Your child changes into these before going into the operating room.

In some cases, your child might be given a small amount of a medication to drink. This can help your child feel more relaxed before the procedure.

Prior to surgery, you can speak with the surgeon and anesthesiologist. After everything has been explained, one parent or guardian signs consent forms for both the surgery and anesthesia.

In the Operating Room

You may decide to stay with your child in the operating room until the anesthesia takes effect. However, NYU Langone does not allow caregivers to remain in the operating room during surgery. The anesthesiologist discusses this decision with you on the day of surgery.

Usually, parents do not accompany very young children or those with complex medical problems into the operating room. Please note that if a mother or other adult guardian is pregnant, safety precautions prevent her from being allowed to escort the child into the operating room.

Before entering the operating room, you are asked to put on a hat and a protective jumpsuit, which goes over your clothing. The surgical nurse introduces himself or herself and asks you to say your child’s name, birth date, and the name of the medical procedure. A special item—such as a stuffed animal, blanket, or toy—can accompany your child into the operating room and is then removed by you or a nurse after the anesthesia takes effect.

Surgery Waiting Areas

Each department has a specific area where parents are asked to wait. Check with your child’s physician, surgeon, or nurse for the exact location. A nurse liaison or unit receptionist can also help direct you. Please be sure that at least one parent or guardian is there at all times, unless your child’s surgeon states otherwise. If you need to leave, please speak with a staff member before doing so.

We strongly encourage you not to bring any siblings or other children to the hospital on the day of the surgery. If this is unavoidable, for their safety and that of others, children will need to be accompanied by an additional adult guardian at all times.

When the procedure is over, the surgeon speaks with you, and then you can sit with your child in the recovery room. For your child’s safety, we ask that you not wake your child unless otherwise directed by a nurse or a doctor.

Because the recovery room is a busy place, where staff is attending to the needs of both adults and children, we ask that you stay with your child until he or she is ready to go home or is moved to a room for an overnight stay.  If you have any concerns, please speak directly to your child’s nurse.

During the Hospital Stay

Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital recognizes the importance of families. Parents and guardians can be with their child 24 hours a day, and each room has one sleeper chair for a parent or legal guardian who wishes to stay overnight. If you need additional accommodations outside the hospital for a second parent or other family members, please contact guest services.

General visiting hours vary by location. We encourage family visits in the hospital. However, it is important that your child also gets the rest he or she needs. We request that anyone who is feeling ill stay home for the child’s safety. Please talk with your child’s nurse before bringing a visiting child who is younger than age 13. Younger children can become overwhelmed by what they see in the hospital, and they might need extra support. An adult must supervise visitors who are younger than age 18 at all times to avoid disturbing other patients and families.

“We practice family centered care, where families are encouraged to participate in the clinical care rounds and be an integral part of the care decision making process for their infant. It also empowers parents and allows them real participation in their child’s care.”

—Pradeep Mally, MD, Dch, FAAP

Division Director, Neonatology

A small bedside cabinet is provided for each patient. Because space is limited, please bring only those items you truly need. It is recommended that you leave valuable items at home to avoid any risk of loss. Learn more about what to bring for your child’s hospital stay.

A TV and DVD unit is available at each bedside. You can bring your child’s favorite movies and music. The child life team can also provide access to toys, computers, and some video games during your child’s stay.

Activities in the Hospital

A visit to the playroom is a good way to begin encouraging your child to return to typical activity levels while recovering. Child life specialists, as well as art, music, and recreation therapists, lead scheduled groups in the playroom.

The child life staff is trained to provide services and activities that can aid in recovery while also providing a welcome diversion from the medical experience. Programs such as animal-assisted therapy, horticulture, medical play, and art, music, and recreation therapy are available. We also offer special activities such as hospital bingo, holiday celebrations, and visits from clowns, magicians, celebrities, and specialty groups.

Every child’s needs are individualized. The medical team can advise you as to what activities are appropriate for your child. If your child is unable to join the group programs, child life staff and volunteers are available to provide bedside activities.

The New York City Department of Education provides certified teachers for all hospitalized children and young adults who are enrolled in elementary through high school. Teachers assist children in keeping up with schoolwork during their hospital stay and can help arrange home instruction when appropriate.

Diet in the Hospital

Your child’s nutrition is monitored throughout his or her hospital stay. Intravenous (IV) fluids are given if your child cannot eat or drink. After surgery, your child's doctor determines if he or she is ready to resume eating regularly. If so, meals are delivered to your child’s bedside. Breastfeeding mothers are encouraged to nurse or pump breastmilk for their children.

A Kosher menu is available through NYU Langone food services. Please speak to the nursing staff to arrange for these meals. Ask your nurse before bringing food to the playroom. There are also cafes and cafeterias for parents and guests at NYU Langone’s Tisch Hospital and the Hospital for Joint Diseases.