I'm writing this post praying that you never, ever have to use the Emergency Room at CHEO. But if you find yourself in a time when you do need to make a trip, as I did twice in one week recently, I hope you'll find some of these tips useful.
My 5 year old son Joel suffers from asthma, and we've made a few trips to CHEO since he was born. When the temperature spiked to 43 degrees with the humidex recently, he was struggling so much to breathe. I watched him an hour in the morning, and seeing that his breathing was not improving with his inhaler, it was off to CHEO we went.
In our situation, I had time to gather a few things to take with me, and to drop off my daughter at the sitter's. If you do have time to grab a few things, here's what I recommend you stuff your purse with as you head out the door:
- cell phone and/or ipad (and chargers!)
- bottle of water/juice box -snacks (for you and your child)
-colouring book, crayons, note paper
-small cars, teddy bear or other toy to keep them distracted
-candy or suckers if you have any
-your child's health card
-toonies and loonies if you have any
Tip #1 - Take your parking ticket with you, and put it in your wallet. If you are in the waiting room for a long time, you will be pulling things out of your bag and it could get lost in the shuffle.
Tip #2 - When you first arrive, have your health card in your hand. You will be greeted by very friendly nurses in triage who will assess your child and send you to registration. We were moved into our own room very quickly because of the severity of Joel's asthma. Every nurse and health care professional we saw were exceptionally friendly and amazing with Joel.
Tip #3 - You can order food for your child from your room. Joel was kept in observation for 6 hours while we waited for the medication to take effect. We were in our room through lunch and dinner. You can ask for a menu for your child, and they can choose anything they want from it. Joel had spaghetti and jello for lunch, and a few snacks later on in the afternoon.
Tip #4 - The main cafeteria closes at 1:00pm. There is a smaller shop that sells pizza, subs and coffee that is open later. However, if you are alone with your child, as I was, unless they feel comfortable being left alone for a few minutes while you run down the hall, then you'll be hungry. There are vending machines in the main waiting room that take only toonies and loonies.
Tip #5 - Keep your child calm and entertained with play I cannot say enough good things about the Child Life service at CHEO. Child life specialists are professionals trained in areas of child development, play and the psychosocial needs of children and families. Aside from preparing and support children and youth during medical tests and procedures, they also have toys, activities for children to play with as well as DVDs to keep them distracted during their stay. Joel played for a long time with a 20 questions toy, stickers and some colouring books.
Tip #6 - Play is a great distraction There are lots of learning and play opportunities in an emergency room. Joel kept himself busy with post it notes, stickers, toy cars, rubber gloves, medical masks and even those little black things the doctor uses to check our ears! He pretended to be Dr. Joel giving me a check up.
After 6 hours, Joel's asthma was under control and we were on our way back home. He's doing great now!
We are so fortunate to have access to such a great facility in Ottawa. I am so thankful for CHEO and the amazing care they provided to my son. Go show your support and give them a shoutout on Twitter and follow them on Facebook!
Vicky is mom to a 5 year old named Joel and 3 year old daughter named Mieka. She is also a Play Stylist with Peekaboo Beans and an occasional teacher. To find out more visit her site at www.pbstylist.com .