Preparing for Your Child’s Heart Surgery

Preparing for Your Child’s Heart Surgery


one of the things I tell parents is that
we watch their child every heartbeat every breath I have loved kids and
working with kids for as long as I can remember and I’ve kind of been
surrounded by them my whole life and I knew that’s exactly what I felt
called to do and where I felt like my gifts would be best utilized I have a
passion for children their enthusiasm their zeal the way that they can
overcome so much and how strong that they are and just a place a little bit
of an impact in that is just amazing a Child Life Specialist is a professional
trained in child development who can help patients understand more about
their hospitalization try to reduce the stress of being in the hospital I’m
gonna try to meet a child on their level depending on their development and just
talk to them in kid-friendly language to make sure that they understand
everything that the team has been talking about we want to give kids
information so that there’s less fear of the unknown so we’re going to give them
step-by-step instructions in a kid-friendly way so they know who
they’re going to meet who they’re going to see and even what they’re going to
smell as a cardiac social worker I work
alongside the Child Life specialists and the chaplain as the family support team
I always tell families that they can plan all they want but once they come
back from the surgical waiting room to see their child they often have a
difficult time and I think that’s a very normal response and that’s why we’re
there to help support them and let them know that what they’re feeling what
they’re experiencing is normal while your child is hospitalized we have a
wonderful Family Center that’s located just down the hall on the second floor
it’s equipped with a family library an ICU waiting room a family kitchen lounge
that’s also where our parents sleep pods are located lockers and four washers and
dryers parents and other family members can park in the visitor parking garage
and it’s very important that they remember to bring in their parking
ticket to the first floor information desk as long as they’re able to name the
child that they’re seeing in the hospital they can get their ticket
stamped and purchase the five exits for five dollars so they’ll pay five dollars
upfront but essentially it’s only one dollar per visit on the pre op day when you come in we do
a history physical you will meet with anesthesia so they talk to you about
your child going off to surgery on the next day you will meet with a surgeon
they will go over the surgery with you get you to sign consent for the surgery
on that day we will also do an echo to make sure we know everything is as we
expect we will do a chest x-ray and we will do lab work it’s a very long day if you need to change the date you will
give our office a call the office number is 404-785-0504 and we can get you a new date your pre-op clinic day can be a
long day because there’s lots of important people there part of your
child’s care team and so we want you to be prepared for spending a good amount
of time at the hospital to help your child cope with that it’s best to bring
some activities and snacks for them so they can handle being in the clinic area
for a long time when you meet with your anesthesiologist they will go over
eating guidelines with you is extremely important that you follow those
guidelines NPO is nothing by mouth if you hear anybody saying NPO we’re
talking about nothing to eat or drink by mouth they will give you specific
guidelines as far as the last time that your child will be able to have any
solid foods and milk products as well as any clear liquids we will write that
down for you and give you a tip sheet that will also have all the instructions
down there so that you’ll have that to refer to when you get home a lot of
parents ask the question is how soon should I tell my child about heart
surgery and we recommend that you think about telling your child the same number
of days as their age so for example if your child is 13 years old you know
telling them about two weeks before their surgery this gives them enough
time to you know tell their friends if they want or prepare to miss school if
you think about a younger child you want to make sure that they don’t have too
much time to let their imaginations go wild and to get worked up about coming
in for surgery it’s really important that we get to meet kids in the pre-op
clinic because it allows us a chance to get to new kids and learn what’s going
to help them cope even after their surgery building that trust during an
initial visit is really important during the pre-op clinic day the nurses will go
with you over the instructions of the CHG wipes that we sent home with you
every child is required to be wiped down that night before surgery and we will
give you a packet of wipes the product that we use is called CHG it stands for
chlorhexidine it is an antibacterial skin cleanser which helps to prevent
infection we’ve asked the parents that they do a wipe the night before surgery
and the staff will then do another one the
morning of the procedure when the child comes in what you are going to do is
just have your child take a bath or shower like they normally would any
other night dry off we do not want any lotions powders creams deodorants on
their skin after they’ve had their bath we give you a packet or two of wipes and
we want you to do the wiping on the front and the back of the body and that
consists of from the neck all the way down to the toes as well as the shoulder
to the wrist area you do not wipe their face their hands or go into any of the
private areas but everything else gets wiped for three minutes front and back
and then we want you to just air dry for three minutes and put clean pajamas on
and go to bed and just be aware that when we come in that next day the staff
will again do the exact same procedure on your child just to help create an
extra barrier protection and prevent infection at your pre-op clinic visit
you will get your return instructions that would include your time to return
to the day surgery department as well as all the eating and drinking times and
once you return you will sign your child in we’ll take you back with them to the
pre-op area that’s where we’ll have them get changed after that we ask you to
wait in our waiting area we do want to have somebody available all the time in
case the surgeons or the operating room should need to reach you we do not call
on cell phones we do call to the waiting area so at least one parent should be
available for us at all times you’ll get a phone call from the operating room
nurse usually it takes about an hour an hour and a half before you’ll get that
first phone call out in the waiting area and then you can expect an update call
approximately every hour after that if for some reason you have not received
your call please do not hesitate to ask the receptionist to check on that for
you we’ll be happy to call back there to the o.r and have them give you an update
after surgery the first time you see the child in the cardiac ICU he or she will
have the breathing tube in they will have multiple IVs in that allows us to
do monitoring and also to give medications in the ICU right after
surgery it is a one-to-one nurse to patient ratio we’re responsible for
every aspect of the child’s care from the moment that come into the cardiac
ICU I think it’s always a a bit of a shock when you come into the
is you right after cardiac surgery the kids have a breathing tube in they’ll
usually have a catheter through the nose that goes down into the stomach that
gets out extra air they’ll have a bunch of bandages across their chest
they’ll have usually two chest tubes that will come out somewhere around the
ribcage and then a number of additional catheters and wires that we use for
monitoring we look at every heartbeat every blood pressure that is generated
by the heart across our monitoring screens we see continuously the heart
rate the respiratory rate the blood pressure the pressure is within the
heart family rounds are regular rounds and so the families are more than
welcome every time we’re rounding we start out
the nurses we’ll go through the events over the past day and then we have a
sheet just to go through methodically all the data that is collected so the
families hear this and then it gives them an opportunity to ask questions
they really are aware of what we’re doing we translate it and say what we’re
doing is going to take the breathing tube out today instead of saying we’re
going to do endotracheal excavation we’re open 24/7 and so whether the family is
in the ICU or at home they want an update they’re encouraged to call it
anytime in the cardiac intensive care unit we do allow siblings to come back
and see their brother or sister but during flu season we usually restrict
visitation to siblings who are 12 and older just to further protect our
patients from flu and other viruses when your child is in the cardiac intensive
care unit families have a few different options in terms of lodging if they live
at least 50 miles away from the hospital they are eligible to stay at the Ronald
McDonald House and they can stay there while their child remains in the cardiac
ICU the sleep pods are for families that may not qualify for the Ronald McDonald
House or are not able to go home each night that their child is in the CICU
either one or two parents can stay in a sleep pod but they are only for the
parents or legal guardians of the child in the CICU if parents want to
sign up for a sleep pod they will go to the Family Center located on the second
floor and request a room through the guest service liaison we have nine
parent sleep pods available each night and if more than nine families sign up
then it does become a lottery drawing but more times than not everybody gets a
room once the child is ready to move out of the intensive care unit they’re going
to go to their own room called the cardiac step-down unit where you can
stay with your child 24 hours and be a little bit more comfortable a lot of
times they’re going to feel more like playing it’s their own space and it’s a
little bit calmer there’s less things going on for a kid in that unit it’s
also important to know that only two parents can stay in the child’s room in
the cardiac step-down unit no siblings or any other child under the age of 18
can spend the night anywhere in the hospital your time on the CSU is your
time that you have to prepare for home you’ll have vital signs you’ll have
daily weights you’ll do hands-on care each nurse has a cell phone that is only
for them and they will give you that phone number they’ll put it up on the
board for you you’ll always have direct contact with them if you need anything
at all you’ll have lots of education throughout your stay on CSU you also
have classes to attend as discharge coordinators we see throughout the
discharge process the discharge process begins on admission we want to establish
a rapport with you and for you to feel comfortable talking with us and we will
facilitate your discharge process as smooth and as
as possible we meet with parents in the pre-op clinic and we introduce them with
the ticket to home which is the checklist of things we want to teach
them before they go home then I’ll see them again in the ICU
which I’ll present them with the ticket to home at that time I also follow them
through the cardiac step down unit and into discharge there are two classes that are
required for all parents to attend before going home we introduce these
classes in pre-op clinic and we’ll give you an invitation at that time you’ll
also receive another invitation once you are admitted I’m into the ICU there’s
the discharge class that goes over incision care what to look out for when
you go home when to call the doctor that class is available throughout the week
the next class is a CPR class that class is a basic CPR class that’s available to
all parents and we recommend that all parents go to that class prior to
discharge if your child is a newborn we recommend that you go to the car seat
class the car seat class will talk about how to put the car seat into your car on
the correct position and the correct angle to put your child in the car seat
as well it’s imperative that you stay with your child throughout the CSU stay
because this is a time for you to be hands-on the more your hands on with
your child the more you participate in the care the more questions you’re going
to be able to ask and the more comfortable you will be what you’re
going home once the patient is discharged within 48 hours the discharge
coordinators will do a follow-up phone call to assure that the parents are feel
comfortable at home make sure they’ve received all their medicines the child
is feeding well once you’re discharged from the step-down unit if you live
close enough we do have you come back for one follow-up visit if you are from
far and it is not feasible for you to come back and see us we just allow you
to followup with your cardiologist and if they have concerns they will
definitely give us a call uno is the newest member of our family
support team and probably the most popular he has already shown to have so
many benefits clinically and he does everything from motivating a patient to
walk during the recovery process he might provide distraction during a
medical procedure but I think most importantly he brings so much joy and
happiness to patients he has the ability to kind of take somebody outside of the
hospital experience and he makes our unit feel a little bit more like home
one patient that we have right now his his dad told us that it was the first
time that the patient has smiled since his surgery was one who no came into the
room I am the cardiac chaplain and I work as
part of the family support team and my unique role is to provide spiritual
support to our patients and families while they are here and I feel really
fortunate because this is a environment that really appreciates and affirms the
diverse faiths traditions and spiritual practices of each patient and family
that comes through our doors that’s a huge part of my role here is taking the
time to really get to know a family what’s important to them what helps them
cope while they’re in this place their beliefs and faith background that helps
give them strength while they’re here I found a lot of families often tell me
that having their child here in the hospital is a really big test of their
faith we have a beautiful chapel that’s located on the first floor and I often
tell families that if they need a place to just get away from the unit to think
to breathe to pray to meditate that the chapel provides that quiet environment
for them we know that each family’s spiritual beliefs and practices are
important to them and so chaplains are available to call your priest rabbi
minister and make contact with them and let them know you’d like them to visit
and we encourage families to contact their local minister it’s a privilege to
be able to walk with families and journey with families through that
process of questioning sometimes but also rejoicing and sharing in the joys
and miracles that present themselves here I’ve done this for 14 years now and it
still amazes me that we get the kids stabilized they wake up a few hours
later they get their breathing tube out and I think it’s in part due to the just
really amazing resilience that kids have a tremendous amount of experience and
expertise occurs throughout the system when the parents come in they see all
the people all the busy all the activity that takes place and it’s a bit
overwhelming at first but then after a while when it’s time to go the floor the
kids are ready some of the families they well really a little bit more
comfortable in the ICU we want to make that process as smooth as safe as
efficient and for the parents overall to feel comfortable and at ease when going
the children here are amazing and resilient and they’re the strong ones
and it’s my privilege to be able to journey with families while they’re here


20 thoughts on “Preparing for Your Child’s Heart Surgery

  1. Thank you so much I really needed that Tuesday is coming very fast I thank everyone that's going to take care of my baby

  2. my 1st granddaughter [3mos] is going wednesday for heart surgery and I am a wreck.  she is a block of sugar to me already.  I am suppose to be the strong one in this, I am not. I do not want pity,just strength please. will be another hard day on the ball. our lives here.

  3. I don't know why I'm watching this I'm just into hospital videos and I don't need heart surgery and I've never had surgery

  4. I had a heart transplant when I was 8 and I'm sooo grateful for the amazing family who donated their daughters heart for me, they saved my life 😃

  5. Thanks to information
    Take care us

    And

    Get well soon as soon

    Every one 1🌹🌷🍀🌹🌷🍀🎒🌷🌸🍀🌹🌸🌷🌸🌷🌸🍀🎒🎍👭👭👭👭👭👭👭👭👭

  6. God spare anyone from a heart surgery…

    The most risky operation of all. Success rate is usually 70%

    Not wishing this even to my enemies.

  7. My granddaughter was diagnosed with dialated cardiomyapathy possible cause include
    Hereditary /,genetic
    Exposure to toxins
    Virus

    They say no matter the cause the treatment is the same
    I have to wonder there have been so many things done to me and I'm around her daily smh

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