Patients & Family
We understand that entering a hospital can be a difficult, confusing—and sometimes even frightening—experience for children and their families. We want to put you and your child at ease. First and foremost, you are in good hands at N.C. Children’s Hospital, with access to some of the nation’s foremost experts in the full range of pediatric specialties and subspecialties.
Throughout your child’s care and treatment, these highly-skilled, highly-trained medical professionals will take the time to talk with you and your family, answering any questions you may have. They will offer you and your child a range of support services to make his or her medical journey more management and a lot less stressful.
N.C. Children’s Hospital is committed to patient- and family-centered care. That mean YOU are a valuable member of your child’s care team. No one knows your child better than you do, so your engagement in your child’s health care is a tremendous help to the entire care team—and to your child. We invite and encourage you to participate in daily rounds and find other ways to advocate for your son or daughter during the hospital stay.
Whether yours is a short or extended stay, everyone at N.C. Children's Hospital—from caregivers like the doctors and nurses to the support staff in food services and housekeeping—is committed to the genuine caring and compassion that is critical for the healing of sick and injured children. If you have any questions before, during, or after your child's stay, please just ask.
If you are curious about all the different members of your care team, we have a glossary of pediatric clinicians you can consult.
In the meantime, here are some of the questions parents facing their child’s first admission often ask.
Will we be able to stay with our child overnight?
We value parent participation and recognize the special role you play in healthcare decision making and the care of your child. We encourage you to spend as much time as possible with your child during the hospitalization. Each inpatient room (beyond the Newborn Critical Care Center) is private and has a private bathroom, which makes it more comfortable for your child and easier for you to be part of the process. The rooms are large enough to accommodate family visits, and every room has a convertible sofa so that an adult family member may stay overnight.
Are there places to stay near the hospital?
Some families of pediatric patients are referred to the Ronald McDonald House by their doctor, nurse, or social worker. There are also local hotels in close proximity to the hospital, some of which offer discounts to families of UNC Medical Center patients.
Patient relations can assist you with finding housing in the area should you need to stay. They can be reached by calling 984-974-5006. Or you can find more lodging information on the UNC Medical Center website.
Will I be able to talk to my child's doctor?
Caregivers at N.C. Children's Hospital are very committed to involving you as much as possible in your child's care. You will be able to talk with your child's doctor, as well as with other members of your child's hospital team, which may include may nurses and nurse practitioners, social workers, psychologists, physical and/or occupational therapists, dietitians, and other health professionals. Your child's caregiver will take the time to talk with you and answer your questions, as well as instruct you in how to provide care for your child when appropriate.
N.C. Children's Hospital is a teaching hospital. This means your child's care will be provided, in part, by medical trainees like resident physicians and medical students who are training under the expert supervision of our attending physicians. Different members of your child's medical team may ask you many of the same questions. This is part of our method of providing quality care and being thorough.
Please keep a paper and pen handy to take notes, ask questions, and write down anything you want to discuss with your child's caregiver.
Will our other children be allowed to visit their brother/sister in the hospital?
Yes, visitors can be good medicine for patients. Family members and friends are welcome to visit as long as they are healthy. General visiting hours are from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Please check with your child's nurse about visiting hours specific to their unit.
Providing a healthy environment for your child's recovery is important for your child and other children who are patients at N.C. Children's Hospital. Visitors suffering from a cold, virus, infection, or other illness should remain at home.
Will I be able to use my cell phone in my child's room?
Wireless communication devices may have electromagnetic interference, which could interfere with medical equipment, and therefore, cell phone use rules vary based on the type of equipment in individual patient rooms. Please ask your child's nurse for the policy specific to your child's equipment and medical situation.
Note that you may see nurses using cordless phones. These phones operate on a frequency that does not interfere with medical equipment.
Is there a computer available where I can look up information about my child's diagnosis on the Internet?
Several of the inpatient units have family resource room, which have computers available for your use. Your nurse can give you directions to the family resource room from your child's room. You can also find more health information through the UNC Health Sciences Library website.
Depending on his or her age, your child is likely to have questions about a stay in the hospital. You can use the information provided here to put his or her mind at ease.
What will I see?
One of the first things you'll see when you enter the N.C. Children's Hospital is a big weird gizmo–two stories tall and constantly in motion. The big weird gizmo–more properly called an "audio kinetic sculpture" – is a jumble of mechanical devices and rolling balls, and it makes strange sounds. Nearby, there are lights on the wall in the lobby that change color as you are looking at them. You will also see signs to help you find your way. You will see a lot of bright colors, sculptures and fun artwork. You will also see a lot of people. Many people work in the hospital and they're all here to help you. Some people will bring you food on a tray, some will clean your room, some will listen to your heart, and some will write things down on charts. All of them will be working to help you get better and most of them will ask you questions. You might even see a teacher who will help you with your schoolwork.
How will I feel?
Some children feel like staying in bed and getting a lot of rest. Some children feel like playing. Some children feel like eating and others don't. Some children feel like doing what they do at home and some don't. Whatever you feel like is okay. Every person feels differently and wants to do different things. However you feel, we do our best to help you feel better and feel as comfortable as possible.
What is there to play with?
Sometimes you may play in your room, watch TV or movies. Other times you may want to go to the play areas. The play atrium on the 7th floor has lots of toys and games for all ages. It has trees that have lights in the branches. There are things to climb and a bridge to play on. There is a rocky stream painted on the rubber-foam floor and big windows that allow for lots of light. The recreation area also includes a teen activity center, with Internet access, video games, a large screen TV and a computer. The teens can shoot hoops, toss the football and play air hockey or pool in the game room. Middle school kids can also use the game room during special hours. There is a music room that is set up with a karaoke machine so you can hear yourself sing. There are also instruments in this room in case you want to play a musical instrument and it has a stereo setup.
Can I bring my toys?
Yes. Some children say it helps to make them feel better if they have a special toy, blanket, pillow or game from home. You may want to bring a stuffed animal, book or hand-held video game.
Can my friends come to visit?
In most cases, yes. Your friends can come visit during visiting hours. They can play with you in your room and may even get to go to the play atrium with you. If you have something contagious or if your friends are sick, then they should stay home. Please check with your nurse first.
What will my room look like?
You will have your own room and your own bathroom. There will be plenty of room for your family. You will have a TV, telephone and a fold-out couch so that one adult can stay overnight with you. Bring your favorite movies or watch some of the movies on Channel 40.
What will I wear?
Some patients wear hospital pajamas or gowns. Some patients bring their favorite pajamas and some wear clothes from home. You can even bring your own slippers from home.
Will my parents or grandparents know what's happening to me?
Yes! Your parents and grandparents will be able to help the other people in the hospital–called your hospital team–take care of you. They can visit you and one adult can stay in your room with you at night. They will be able to tell your hospital team what you like and don't like because they know you better than anyone else. Your hospital team has special training that helps them figure out what to do to make you feel better. They can talk to your parents and grandparents about what to do to make you more comfortable.
What about my school work?
There is a school in the hospital with teachers and a principal. They can check with your teacher back home and figure out what lessons you need to learn. Every day you that you attend the hospital school counts on your attendance. That way you might not have to miss a lot of school. You can have your parent ask the nurse about it once you get to the hospital. Your main job in the hospital is to feel better, but if you feel okay then you might get to go to the hospital school.
Where can I find more health information?
We've put together some Web links that may help answer your questions. The N.C. Children's Hospital is not officially endorsing these sites -- they are suggestions for additional information.
- Neuroscience for Kids – Exploring the most amazing 3 pounds of tissue on the planet: The human brain! Check it out!
- The Heart: Online Exploration – This site will help you understand your heart. It will help you understand how your heart works!
- Inner Body.com – This is a great place to learn anatomy and how your body works online!
- Kids' Corner – Do you have diabetes? Here's a great place to learn about kids' diabetes, and share with other kids who have it too.
- The Yuckiest Site on the Internet! – Find out about all kinds of really gross stuff here, with everything from worms to bodily function