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Six things to look for in a children's hospital

You want the best care providers for your child, but have you thought about what you want out of a hospital?

Six things to look for in a children's hospital

The healthcare system can be difficult to navigate for anyone. When it’s your child receiving the medical care, it can evoke even more concerns. Beyond wanting world-class medical care with trusted professionals, you may feel more protective about everything and everyone interacting with your child. Keep these six helpful tips in mind when choosing quality care for your child.

  1. Look for a family-centered care approach

When your child is going through the medical system, the experience does not just happen to the child, but the entire family – especially if your child has a condition requiring continuous care. A good children’s hospital will help you look at how your child’s medical condition will affect the whole family, offer guidance and suggest how the family can make the necessary adjustments.

  1. Take the time to find the right specialist for your child

Physician examining a small childPediatricians are integral to pediatric care. Additionally, some conditions require advanced training. For example, if your child has an orthopaedic condition, you should seek out a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon.

Theresa Hennessey, M.D., orthopaedic surgeon at Shriners Hospitals for Children—Salt Lake City runs the weekly clubfoot clinic and points out, “It is not unusual that children come into the clinic having not been helped or even been made worse from the work of a physician who was not familiar with the management of a condition. While I know they do the best with the knowledge they have, a generalist may not have the training or exposure to treat the conditions we see day-in and day-out.” There is plenty of research that shows treatment will be better quality with fewer complications if you are treated at a hospital and by a physician with greater experience in that specific condition.

  1. Ensure you have access to the latest in technology

As advancements are made in medicine, this can mean less time in the hospital and shorter recovery times from surgeries and other procedures. It can also mean connecting you to a specialist in another city or country. Telehealth at Shriners Hospitals for Children—Salt Lake City allows the hospital’s pediatric orthopaedic experts to have clinical visits with kids throughout the Intermountain West without the specialists or children having to travel long distances.

  1. Prioritize an experienced surgery teamSurgeons in the operating room

It is important to be familiar with your operation room (OR) team before your child undergoes surgery. While the expertise and credentials of the surgeon are certainly important, the surgeon is in a room full of professionals that play important roles as well. The OR is composed of surgeons, registered nurses, surgical assistants, surgical technicians and anesthesiologists all playing different and important roles. A good OR team will have worked together for a few years. Add this inquiry to the list of questions you ask your surgeon: “Tell me about the OR team.”

  1. Take advantage of recreation therapists and child life specialists who breathe fun into the hospital experience

The child life specialists at children’s hospitals help kids understand procedures and medical language, and talk to them at their level, keeping things light and even playful. Take time to get to know the child-life specialist assigned to your child. They have a wealth of knowledge and their job is to be there for your whole family.

Child life specialist with patientNot all children's hospitals have a recreation therapist, but if you locate one that does, depending on your child’s condition, they will have a huge impact on your child’s recovery and adjustment in their day-to-day life. The proficiency and creative ideas a recreation therapist can offer will help you and your child remember that recreation is important to child development, and having fun is therapeutic!

  1. Find a dedicated space for kids to be kids

A good children’s hospital will have been designed with activity space for kids in mind. Sometimes your child just needs to get out of the hospital room and be in a space that doesn’t feel like it's in a hospital. This space can be great for the whole family to unwind and play.

To learn more about the patient programs and hospital experience at Shriners Hospitals for Children – Salt Lake City.

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