Planning Ahead

Things you must bring on the day of surgery

  • Photo ID of parent or legal guardian
  • Health insurance card
  • Name and contact info for all doctors who your child sees
  • A list of your child’s current medicines, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and herbal supplements
  • Copies of guardianship or custodial papers, if applicable

What you need to know

  • We do not allow children 12 years and younger to visit the recovery room. Please bring another responsible adult or arrange child care for any siblings.
  • Because children are not allowed to eat or drink before surgery, we do not allow food or drinks in the waiting or preop areas.
  • If your child is going home the day of their surgery, a responsible adult must stay with him or her for the rest of the day and overnight.
  • It can be helpful to stock your home with some items for when your child returns from the hospital, such as popsicles, soup, fruit juice, soda and pain medicines like acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Motrin®). Stay away from items with red dye in them for the first 24 hours.

Please leave items of value, such as jewelry and large amounts of cash, at home. We are not responsible for missing items and cannot replace them if they are lost.

How child life specialists can help your family get ready for surgery

Child life specialists are trained to help children and families understand and cope with getting care at a hospital. A child life specialist can help patients and families in these ways:

  • Prepare children, teens and families for surgery and hospital experiences by explaining step-by-step in a developmentally appropriate way what to expect and what will happen while at the hospital.
  • Support the emotional and educational needs of the patient, parents, siblings and other family members.
  • Reduce stress and worry by providing distraction and promoting positive coping skills during medical procedures.
  • Offer age-appropriate and safe play activities.
  • Help patients develop ways to cope with fear, worry, separation and adjustment to the hospital, specifically with the surgery experience.
  • Assist special needs patients and their families by making plans and strategies to help them cope with being in the hospital.

To learn more, call the child life specialist at 216-844-1312 before your child’s surgery.


Planning for missed school

Tell your child’s school that your child will be absent. Make plans with teachers to have assignments and books at home so your child can keep up with his/her schoolwork. Most kids often feel well enough to do routine schoolwork once they’re home and getting better. If your child needs help catching up, talk with the school for guidance.


Touring the surgery area

We offer tours at some surgery centers, such as UH Ahuja Medical Center and the Prentiss Surgery Center at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. Taking a tour can help you, your family and your child better prepare. The tour is free and it takes about an hour.

On the tour, your family and your child will:

  • Tour the waiting room, preop area, and recovery “wake up” room
  • Learn what to expect on the day of surgery
  • Get hands-on learning experiences using cloth dolls and real medical equipment that your child will see on the day of surgery
  • Talk about anesthesia (sleep medicine) and what it is like to fall asleep for surgery

Tours are offered during the week, most often in the afternoons. To schedule your tour, call the Pediatric Surgery Child Life Specialist at 216-844-1312. Please give your child’s name, age, the surgery he/she is having, and when you would like to schedule the tour.

Back to Top