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Q: How long will my son/daughter have to stay at the Inpatient Psychiatry Service at Boston Children's Hospital?
A: Length of stay varies and is determined by the reason for admission and the progress that your child makes on the unit. It is our goal to make your child's stay in the hospital only as long as is needed to address what brought your child to the hospital. Specific questions about length of stay should be addressed to your child's treatment team.
Q: How old are the kids on the unit?
A: The age range is from eight to 17 years. The children are divided into younger (school-age) and older (adolescent) groups for the purposes of school and therapeutic and activity groups.
Q: Can I stay with my child overnight?
A: No. Unfortunately, you cannot stay with your child overnight. There are not appropriate accommodations for you to stay. However, be assured that there is staff available 24 hours a day to ensure your child's comfort and safety.
Q: Will my son/daughter have his/her own room?
A: Usually, your child will not have their own room. Most of the patient rooms on the unit are semi-private rooms with two to three patients. Rooms for younger children are on the main hallway of the unit, while those for adolescents are on the left hallway of the unit.
Q: When can I see my son/daughter?
A: Visiting hours for parents and siblings are weekdays from 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. and on weekends from 10 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. On Wednesday evenings, visiting is extended until 8 p.m. and there is a family night activity.
Q: Can other people visit my son/daughter?
A: Your child's treatment team will ask you for a list of people (friends or extended family) who have your permission to visit. These visits should be pre-arranged with the team. Anyone younger than 21 must be accompanied and supervised by a parent/guardian of the patient.
Q: Can my child wear regular clothes in the hospital?
A: Yes. You can bring comfortable clothes for your child to wear, such as play or school clothes. You should also bring pajamas.
Q: What other things should I bring?
A: It is a good idea to bring some things that will make your child comfortable, such as a blanket and/or pillow. Also, items such as photos, books, posters, stuffed animals, a journal, stationery, hair care products and electric razors may be brought onto the unit. Anything sharp (razors, pins, scissors, glass or metal picture frames) or other items that may not be safe for the children on the unit should be left at home. The staff will check any belongings that you bring to your child to ensure their safety.
Q: How do I get in touch with my son/daughter?
A: There are two patient telephones on the unit:
To reach your child, call between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.
To reach your child's treatment team or a staff person on the unit, please call 617-355-7721. Parents should feel comfortable calling the office number any time to share new concerns or to let staff know about a difficult phone call with your child.
Q: What will my son/daughter eat while in the hospital?
A: Meals are served family style, with patients and staff eating together. There is generally one meal selection but some children on the unit have special diets, depending on their medical or dietary needs. You can let the staff know if your child has any dietary restrictions
Q: What about school?
A: Part of the day on the IPS unit is dedicated to school. There are two full-time teachers on the unit, one for grades 1-6 and one for grades 7-12, who will help gather assignments from your child's school so your child can keep up with some schoolwork while on the unit.
Q: Who are the clinicians on my child's treatment team?
A: Read more about our clinicians.
Q: With so many people involved, whom do I ask about my child's progress?
A: The primary person to ask about your child's progress and treatment is their case clinician (therapist). Most clinicians are available by phone (617-355-7721) after 10 a.m. during the week.
If they are not immediately available, you can leave a message which will be returned as soon as possible. The nursing staff person who is on duty at the time you call can answer questions about how your child is doing or how they are spending the day. The staff member assigned to your child during each shift is available to answer questions that arise on evenings and weekends.
Q: Will my child have medication changes without my knowledge?
A: No. Parents must be involved and give consent for any medication additions or changes. Only in the case of emergency would medication ever be administered to your child without your prior knowledge. In such a case, every effort will be made to get in touch with you as soon as possible.
Q: What do I tell other people about where my child is?
A: This is a question that most parents struggle with at some point during their child's admission. Be selective. Know who you are talking to. Use the IPS staff to discuss how to talk about your child's hospitalization with family, friends and other community members.
Remember that different people are going to have different reactions - some you will expect, and some will surprise you. You may be pleasantly surprised at how supportive one person is, while being disappointed at another person's reaction. Remember that you choose how much information to share.
The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”