Before Your Visit
Coming to a medical center for an appointment, treatment or stay can be stressful. Knowing what to bring and how to talk to your child ahead of time can reduce this stress.
Planning ahead for your visit to our Prosper medical center
To make your arrival and check-in as smooth as possible, we suggest you:
- Call your doctor's office beforehand if you have questions about your procedure, treatment or arrival time
- Complete all forms provided by your doctor's office
- Contact your insurance provider about your coverage, co-payments and deductibles
- Gather important paperwork, such as referrals, authorizations and doctor's orders
- Make sure you have your photo identification and insurance cards
- Plan your route so you know where to park and where to go for your appointment — we recommend arriving at least 15 minutes early to check in with Patient Registration
- Sign up for the MyCookChildren's patient portal and download the app.
Forms we may ask you to complete and bring with you include:
- Consent for treatment [PDF] / El consentimiento para el tratamiento [PDF]
- Financial disclosure [PDF] / Divulgaciόn de informaciόn financiera [PDF]
Before your visit, a patient registration representative from Cook Children's may contact you to discuss your insurance benefits or collect additional information.
What to bring for overnight stays
Packing the right items can make you and your child feel more at home. Here are some ideas:
For your child
Items your child might like to have during the stay include:
- Books or magazines
- Comfortable clothing
- Electronic devices, earbuds and charging cords (the medical center has free Wi-Fi)
- Favorite blanket
- Hairbrush or comb
- Journal and pen or pencil
- Snacks, depending on your dietary restrictions
- Socks and slippers
- Stuffed animal or favorite toy
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
We know your focus is on your child, but don't forget to pack for yourself. You may want to bring:
- Insurance cards
- List of your child's medications, both prescription and over-the-counter
- Other documents such as a living will and durable power of attorney
- Blanket and pillow
- Books and magazines
- Cellphone, laptop, earbuds and charging cords (the medical center has free Wi-Fi)
- Change for vending machines
- Comfortable clothing
- Craft projects
- Modest sleepwear, slippers and robe
Preparing your child for the visit
Health care situations can cause people of all ages to worry. You can help prepare your child by letting them know what's ahead.
Straightforward, accurate information will help ease your child's fears. Your child may be worrying about something that won't even happen. Being open will help your child trust you and your health care team.
The more your child knows ahead of time, the more comfortable they'll be.
General tips include:
- If your child is under age 5, talk about the visit a day or two beforehand. With older children, give them a few days to a week to process the information and ask questions.
- Use simple words that your child will understand.
- Be honest. If you don't know the answer to your child's questions, tell your child you don't know, but you'll find out.
- Encourage your child to discuss their feelings. Be careful not to force a discussion if your child isn't ready.
- You may be tempted to tell your child things that aren't true. But if something will hurt, say so.
If your child is being admitted to the medical center, these additional suggestions may be helpful:
- Emphasize that the stay is temporary.
- Reassure your child that you'll visit often or stay overnight — whichever is appropriate.
- Pack together for the stay and include the items your child wants to have. For example, your child may be able to wear pajamas from home.
- Point out similarities between Cook Children's and home, such as regular meals, chances to play and having a personal bed.
- Include your entire family in one of your talks before the visit.
- Borrow a library book that describes a hospital stay and read it with your child.
- If your child is having surgery, ask your doctor to connect you with Child Life services. A Child Life specialist can explain what will happen and why, in terms your child will understand.
What to say based on your child's age
Children perceive medical experiences differently based on their age. What you say and do can make a big difference. Try these strategies:
Younger than age 3
At this age, children most fear being away from their parents. Staying with your child as much as possible will help them feel more secure. Younger children 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 them in a way that they can understand 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." When talking about surgery, say "make an opening" instead of "cut."
Ages 6 to 12
Children older than 6 will worry about loss of 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. Explain that though it will hurt for a while, their medical team will make them feel as comfortable as possible.
Teenagers are often reluctant to ask questions, so you may think they understand more than they actually do. Encourage your teenager to ask the doctors and nurses questions about their diagnosis. By including your child in discussions about the care plan, you can help them feel like they have more control.
Step-by-step guide to preparing for surgery
We strive to keep you informed at each step in your child's care — from evaluation through discharge. To help you and your child prepare for surgery, we've created this great surgery guide.