What I Learned When I Visited a Children’s Hospital

This post is part of the Miracle Marathon campaign.

I had been on this children’s hospital campus once before.

Our youngest, known around here as Double J, had a slight heart murmur at his 18-month check-up and our pediatrician wanted an ultrasound done to check it out. We had an appointment in the outpatient clinic and everything checked out just fine.

I didn’t like that we had to be there, but everything about the place made our little one and me feel at ease – the bright, playful decor, the friendly staff, the child-friendly waiting area. For all of that and for the health of our boy, I was very grateful.

I went back to the same children’s hospital campus last week, not as a parent, but as an observer. I was invited on a tour of the hospital facilities to share them with you as we approach the start of the Miracle Marathon, a fundraiser for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals such as Children’s Omaha. And I learned more than I bargained for.

What I Learned at a Children's Hospital

As soon as I stepped in to the heart cath lab, our first stop on the tour, I learned my first lesson: it would be impossible to leave behind the parent part of me as I went on the tour. The child currently being observed in the lab was a six-year-old boy. I have a six-year-old boy. I was amazed to hear about the specialized work of the doctors and staff in this particular lab. The technology being used was incredible.

Children's Cath Lab

But I couldn’t stop thinking about this sweet boy whose heart was in a fast rhythm that couldn’t be controlled by meds and who needed to be observed for most of the day to figure out just what was wrong. I could only imagine being his parents, waiting to hear the diagnosis, but I could also imagine how thankful I would be to know my son was getting such great specialized care. The closest cath lab for children is three hours away, so this is an important service for children in a large geographical area.

My second big lesson came as we visited the emergency department, where 27,000 children have been seen in the past year. Emergency rooms need to be ready for anything, and a children’s hospital emergency room has to be ready for patients of any size. Laid out in the trauma room were the smallest and largest pieces of equipment that could be used on a patient – from a preemie to a high school football player…

Children's Trauma Room

When you hear children’s hospital, you might think of a child similar in age to your child. That’s how my mind viewed it until I saw this trauma room. Treating a sick newborn is very different from treating an injured high school athlete, but these hospitals are ready for it all.

Children's Cuffs

The different medicines that may be needed in the trauma room are even color-coded by weight to streamline the process of treating a trauma patient. I was in awe of how every detail has been thought of to take the best care of kids in need of medical care.

Children's Med Cart

My third lesson: I should have brought tissues. I was very emotional on the tour, for so many reasons. Touring the NICU, seeing the EMT team load up the ambulance to pick up a preemie from another hospital, talking to an interpreter who enjoys so much her job helping Spanish-speaking families and children at the hospital. It was very powerful to see so many people helping these sick and hurting children and loving on their families as well.

Children's Preemie Cart

Which brings me to the last lesson I will share with you today: Donations to this children’s hospital help fund pivotal positions in the hospital I didn’t even know about. One of the most interesting and important to me is the child-life specialist. A child-life specialist is there in the room to help the child feel more comfortable, to help distract them during a painful procedure, to make a sad, horrible, worrisome experience better in any way they can. This position is so critical, yet not reimbursed by insurance companies, which makes it a position dependent on donations.

A children’s hospital could be a place full of so much sadness, but I learned it is a place of love, specialized care, and hope, and I feel so privileged to share such a special place with you.

Children's Girl Heart

*****

The Miracle Marathon, a fundraiser for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, kicks off Tuesday, September 16th. It’s not a scary marathon – it’s just a mile a day for 26 days plus 1.2 miles on the 27th day. You can run, walk, bike – just move a mile forward each day. Do it with your kids. Do it FOR the kids. And I would love to have you join my team! You can donate to our local hospital or one local to you! Just go here to sign up and/or donate and get ready to move! {Yes, we have a long ways to go, but every donation – big or small – is important! Please give what you can!}

Have you ever been to a children’s hospital with your own child? What was your experience like?

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Comments

  1. As a mom of a 4 year old and two year old, both with special needs and extra medical needs we have spent more than our fair share of time in the children’s hospital – multiple times on the surgical floor, multiple ER trips, and multiple times admitted upstairs for a lengthier stay. We have been so touched by how well equipped they are to not only meet all our children’s needs, but also ours. I’ve always been allowed to sleep right next to their bed and the nursing staff makes sure to check on me as well. Volunteers come by to read books and staff gives teddy bears and special toys for them to snuggle while they’re there and then take home. When it’s finally time to leave they get to roll out in bright red wagons and get high fives from the security guards at the door. It’s hard to be in the hospital for any reason with your child, but they really do go out of their way to make it the best experience possible. 🙂

    • This totally made me cry, Lauren, not from sadness, but from the beauty that comes from people loving and serving other people in hard circumstances. Thank you for sharing your story!

  2. Fortunately, our experience with the Children’s Hospital has been limited to a couple of outpatient tests. However, I loved the colorful, fun waiting area as we walked in and we always admire the fun umbrella statues by the parking garage when we drive by. If we ever need it, I’m happy that we have one of the best practically down the street.

    • Tatiana Korol says:

      We stayed at Children’s in Omaha with our oldest daughter when she was 2 and sick with a complicated case of pneumonia. We stayed there for just under 2 weeks after being at our local hospital in Lincoln for 1 1/2 weeks. All of the staff were amazing and took wonderful care of us! There were specialty doctors for every body system and even for different illnesses. We felt safe and well taken care of. My daughter had a chest tube put in to drain fluid from her lungs. This was a complicated procedure and one of the hardest days of my life to let her go to the operating room by herself! But they did an amazing job and she improved in her health quickly. So grateful that The Lord used these nurses and doctors to make my sweet girl better 🙂
      Would love to donate to Omaha in Children’s! (I will discuss it with my hubby and get back to you).

  3. What a beautiful post. I work with our local community hospital sharing the amazing work that they do here in Tucson. I often struggle to control the tears often when talking with families. Thank you for being part of the #miraclemarathon