**Disclaimer** Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has more than one hospital. However, Scottish Rite is the one that I happen to have spent almost 2 out of the last 8 weeks at. I am sure that the other locations are equally as amazing and also promote a wonderful hospital experience for patients and their families.
“Mom, I think I’m constipated”. These are the words that I heard from my oldest multiple times in late February and March. As the complaints got more frequent and the discomfort more obvious I began to suspect appendicitis and took him to the pediatrician. She too believed that appendicitis was the correct diagnosis so off to Scottish Rite we went. And there we stayed for the next 6 days and 5 nights for IV antibiotics so that they could perform a less invasive surgery at a later date. Once his blood work showed that he was improving they sent us home on oral antibiotics. Unfortunately he never really got back to himself like they said that he would and his pain, which had been almost nonexistent upon leaving the hospital, was getting worse. So he was readmitted not quite 3 weeks later. This time they weren’t messing around and put him on stronger antibiotics and kept him for 7 days and 6 nights. Needless to say, we learned a lot about the latest evidence based treatments for appendicitis (they don’t just cut them out as fast as possible now) and about Scottish Rite.
During our first stay we didn’t learn a number of things about our temporary home until we were a few days in. That made the 2nd admission nicer because we were able to jump right in to the routine and know what to expect from activities, games, food, nurses, etc. Hopefully, no one reading this will ever have to be with their child in the hospital and if you do I pray that it will only be one admission and you won’t have to go back. In fact, that is the reason I am writing this, to help parents know what is available to them and their kids so that you can have the best experience possible under the circumstances.
Lets start with the food because everyone has to eat. They do have room service available from 6am-7pm. The patient gets to choose what he wants from the room service menu and their family members can order a tray as well for $6 cash. To be honest, it isn’t worth it. If at all possible head down to the cafeteria especially for breakfast and lunch. They have an assortment of fresh, hot items such as pizza, omelets, and hamburgers as well as prepackaged sandwiches, yogurt, cookies, chips, etc. To drink they have bottles of juice, soda, and energy drinks or you can use the fountain to get a cappuccino, Icee (coke or cherry flavored) or soda. Some days they also have Chick Fil A sandwiches available for lunch. The prices are all reasonable and if you have your parent wrist band you get a discount. If your patient is eating in the cafeteria rather than ordering from room service you can get a voucher from your nurse that will cover up to $6 of their food. My favorite thing about the cafeteria is that it opens back up from 11pm-2am each night for “midnight snack”. If you are a parent of a younger child you may not have the option to leave the room much without him. Once he is asleep and the nurse is notified that you will be out of the room for a few minutes you can steal a few minutes to eat a cookie all by yourself after a tough day of having a sick or injured kid.
“I’m bored” is a common phrase that a lot of parents hear everyday. When your kid is stuck in a hospital room both of you will definitely get stir crazy. So get out of that room if possible. There is a plethora of options available to help entertain kids of all ages. Each unit has a toy room with some games, movies, craft supplies, etc. But if you need more than that you can head down to The Zone in the hospital basement. The Zone is a huge area with tons of video games and iPads, lots of craft supplies, board games, fuseball, air hockey, an old arcade style game, and a community room where they host daily themed projects and activities. Just outside of The Zone is an outdoor play area. There is basketball, mini golf, and a koi pond. There is also a grassy area where you can hula hoop or play soccer or football. You can also just sit on a bench and enjoy the fresh air. Scottish Rite also has a library with books for kids and adults, movies of all genres, and a parent work lab with a fax machine and computers in case you need to get some work done. Recently a vegetable garden was added just off of the 1st floor lobby which can be fun to explore and see what is in season. You can also listen for the announcements or ask your nurse about other activities that they have during the day. When we were there it was almost Easter and so they were dying Easter Eggs and doing other Easter crafts in the lobby several days. There is also a playground on the 1st floor that is suppose to be great but my 16 year old was too cool for that so I didn’t get the opportunity to see for myself.
If you are stuck in the room thats ok too! There are video game consoles on carts that they can bring in for your child to play with or you can bring toys from the unit playroom to the room. Each room also has a DVD player that can play Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, etc. so you and your child can binge watch all of your favorites. You can also request some visitors such as the Happy Tails Dogs or the music therapy volunteers to come and visit. Sometimes there are clowns that will also come to the room to brighten a child’s day.
There really is never a shortage of things to do at Scottish Rite but, unfortunately, you will have to spend a good amount of time in the room. The good news is that the rooms are bright and open and have plenty of room for all of your clothes, snacks, books, and other comfort items. The “pull out” couch type bed is reasonably comfortable to sleep on so moms and dads can get some sleep. The bathrooms have some counter space and shelves to hold your toiletries so you can take care of yourself while taking care of your baby. There is also a parents lounge in each unit that has a fridge, ice, and water, microwave, and washer and dryer. They will give you detergent as requested so you truly don’t have to leave the hospital even to get clean clothes if you don’t want to.
During your stay you will find that the nurses and techs are wonderful! They obviously love children and work very hard to talk with your child and explain what they will be doing before starting any procedure. I loved that they always asked my son how he felt about the care plan being proposed and if he had any questions or concerns. And when they are leaving the room and ask if you need anything, they really mean it. They will bring you anything they can and if they can’t bring it they will find someone that can. The same goes for getting answers to questions.
Some other helpful things to know include the 5 exit for $5 parking pass. If you have to come and go multiple times during your child’s hospital stay it is worth it to pay for this special parking pass which works at the medical office building parking as well. With that $5 pass you will be able to exit the parking deck 5 times and it is good for 1 year once you purchase it. You should also be aware that they have wheelchairs for patients but they also have wagons which is far more fun for smaller kids to ride around from one destination or activity to the next. If your child is school aged and will be missing multiple days of school you may wish to ask about the on site teachers. They are amazing and take care of everything including contacting the school to get work and tests sent over and a teacher or volunteer will come get your child during their scheduled school time and return them to the room when they are done. Most of the school sessions only last about 1 hour so your child will still have plenty of time to rest and get better.
Honestly, if it is not an emergency and you have the time, I recommend driving past any other hospital to get to Scottish Rite. Having 5 active kids means that we have spent our fair share of days and nights in the ER and Scottish Rite has always been my first choice for that. But after spending so much time in the rest of the facility the last several weeks I can definitely say that I would not want my child anywhere else. Heck, it would be hard for me to be a patient in any other hospital after seeing how good it is to be at Scottish Rite.