11:26am Sunday 29 March 2020

Top ten list: How to make your child’s hospital visit easier from a dad who knows the system inside and out | McGill University Health Centre

To mark Patients’ Rights Week, Robert Bloom, father of Gabi, and member of The Montreal Children’s Hospital’s (MCH) Family Advisory Forum (FAF) took a cue from David Letterman and created a top ten list of tips to make your child’s hospital visit a lot easier. 

For Patients’ Rights Week (September 25 to October 2) the Family Advisory Forum (FAF), a parent and patient advocacy group at the MCH, is hosting a seminar for parents entitled: Navigating the health care systemLearn your rights and learn how to communicate effectively on Sunday October 2 at 10 a.m. in the MCH amphitheatre (see agenda below).  The free talk is designed to give parents a better understanding of their rights (see below); how to express concerns or lodge a complaint about the care their child is receiving and tips on how to make their hospital visit easier. The keynote address is – Be heard:  Empower yourself using communication and negotiation skills given by Executive Coach Christiane St-Amour.  Admission is free.


Here are Robert’s top ten tips to make your child’s hospital visit a lot easier:

  1. Be friendly.  ‘Thank you’, ‘please’, and ‘hello’ all go a long way.
  2. Keep a paper and pen with you to write down people’s names and their role in your child’s care. This allows you to follow up if/when you need more info. You can also use it to write down your questions or concerns for those involved in your child’s care.
  3. If you are sleeping at your child’s bedside, be up and ready for the doctor’s morning visit, which can be as early as 7 a.m.  It is hard to be taken seriously, not to mention it’s embarrassing to be in your pj’s, with bed head and morning breath.
  4. Remember the health professionals looking after your child are doing their best, but also keep in mind they are only human. Errors may inadvertently occur so be vigilant but forgiving.
  5. There are no stupid questions: but it is foolish not to ask your questions because you’re afraid of looking stupid.
  6. When you take a break from your child’s bedside, leave a note to let people know when you will be back. Also, leave a pen and paper so any health professional who visits while you are away can leave a message for you.
  7. You are not Superman or Wonder Woman. It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help.  You need to take care of yourself in order to take care of your child.
  8. Do not bring anything of value to the hospital – in other words, don’t bring anything you can’t bear to lose.
  9. There is no magic wand or crystal ball to figure out what is wrong with your child or what the final outcome will be. 
  10. Be patient, it takes time to get an appointment, a consultation, test results, and government subsidies. However, be persistent: you don’t want to fall through the cracks. 


Five bonus tips:

  1. Keep track of your child’s medications. Don’t be shy to ask the nurse what is being administered, how much and how frequently.  Your question may help prevent an error.
  2. Voice your concerns and opinions.  If no one seems to be listening, remind them you know your child better than anyone else. 
  3. If the health professionals recommend a test, procedure, drug, or treatment, discuss the pros and cons with them.  Remember:  you are your child’s voice and you have the right to be heard and to decide what treatment is appropriate.
  4. If you feed them they will come. Have cookies, chocolates, juice at your child’s bedside. Offer some to whoever approaches your child’s hospital bed.  If you are going to the cafeteria for a coffee, ask the nurses if they want one too.

Robert Bloom and his daughter Gabi are known as ‘frequent flyers’, a family that uses The Montreal Children’s Hospital so often they are like the furniture, always there. Gabi has a host of medical ailments. She is in and out of the hospital up to three times per week and visits an array of 21 different specialists.  She is only 25 months old and this has been the routine for her and her mum and dad since she was eight days old.


To speak with Robert Bloom please call:

Lisa Dutton, Manager
Public Relations and Communications
The Montreal Children’s Hospital of the MUHC

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