Top 5 Things Parents Hate About the Hospital

1. There is no privacy. This is difficult on many levels - from private discipline of your child, to having the time and privacy needed to use the bathroom. Ever tried to use only a public toilet for 10 days in a row? Let's just say it can inhibit even the most stolid of personal routines. I remember one parent who threatened to use the toilet in his child's intensive care room: the toilet was surrounded by a flimsy hospital curtain. I always wondered what possessed him to threaten such a thing, and assumed he must have been joking, although he seemed frighteningly serious at the time. Now I have experienced the push/pull of wanting to be by your child's side 24 hours a day - every single second of the 24 hours - and also needing time to yourself for the basic necessities like toileting and eating. What makes a good pediatric nurse? During some down time, they offer to sit and read your ill child a story so you can make a bathroom run or go heat up some food!

2. Living in a bedroom is just plain difficult. Space is so limited in the hospital, and common areas are kept to a minimum, and with limited access, to control the spread of germs. The hospital we've been at has put a lot of thought into group playrooms and access to toys, videos, games, computers and gaming for kids. I am thankful we were there - many smaller hospitals have much fewer options! A good pediatric nurse makes sure patients and families are aware of their resources, and encourages them to leave the room when possible.

3. The food is awful. Not just bland, tasteless, and overcooked. Awful nutritionally, too. I wonder how much more money would be spent if a natural foods chef were hired and some real food was put on the plate? Fresh salad with some mixed greens would be a great first step! Why does hospital food have to resemble cardboard? A good pediatric nurse tells the patient and family what is best on the hospital menu - and makes sure the unit is stocked with some quick, easy alternatives to the cafeteria food.

4. You can forget sleeping! Even if you request no vital sign monitoring at night, even if you hang a "do not disturb" sign on the door, even if you stand watch at the door. Your child will get very little sleep and you will get even less. I wonder if nurses and aids have forgotten that hospital routines vastly reduce the quality of sleep and sleep deprivation reduces healing? A good pediatric nurse is one who thinks first of the schedule of the child, and keeps his or her schedule flexible so that rest and sleep times can be observed.

5. You have to constantly choose between tending your ill child and caring for your children at home. This is even worse when you live far away from the hospital. A good pediatric nurse encourages families to invite the other children to the hospital when possible, and notifies the family of sibling events and areas where siblings are welcome even when visiting policies are limited.

**If you've had a child in the hospital, and you have something to add - or if something else makes your top 5 - please comment by clicking on the pencil and leaving your remarks.