pediatric surgery - what to expect

At Bon Secours, your child is in expert and caring hands. St. Mary's Hospital provides a wide range of pediatric surgeries in our state-of-the-art facilities and our highly skilled team — surgeons, anesthesiologists, certified registered nurse anesthetists and nurses— understands that children aren't just small adults. Our team has been specially trained to treat children and to meet their unique needs. We partner with you to make sure your child receives the best care possible, with the single goal of making your child well. Many of us who will care for your child are moms and dads like you — and we treat your child like our own.

getting acquainted

Surgery is serious and can be scary — for parents and children alike. Part of the anxiety comes from not knowing what will happen. To help you and your child feel more comfortable, we want you to know as much as possible about the surgical process before surgery. St. Mary's Hospital provides an instructional class just for pediatric patients 3-12 years old, to familiarize you and your child about what to expect and how to prepare for the experience. This class will discuss what will happen from admission to discharge, including the importance of not eating or drinking after midnight, where parents will be during and after surgery, and how the child may feel when he or she wakes up. The class may also include a tour of the surgical area and other areas that may be visited during his or her stay. Once surgery is scheduled, call 804-281-8422 to register for the Pediatrics Getting Ready for Surgery Class.

Should your child's physician deem it necessary, pre-admission and pre-operative teaching can be arranged with our Child Life Specialist.

the night before surgery

The surgeon's office will give you instructions for how to prepare for surgery. These instructions will tell you when your child should stop eating or drinking, what medications to take or skip, and when and where to arrive for the surgery. If you weren't given these instructions or can't find them, please call your surgeon's office. If your child is staying in the hospital after surgery, it's a good idea to pack:

  • Comfortable clothes
  • Favorite personal items, such as a blanket, book or toy (such as a doll, stuffed animal, etc.)
  • Baby items, such as a pacifier or sippy cup

the day of surgery

  • Do not let your child eat or drink if he or she is not supposed to
  • Bathe your child if your care team has instructed you to
  • Check for illness (if your child is sick, call your surgeon's office)
  • Bring insurance information, court papers if necessary (papers giving legal custody or guardianship that allows you to admit your child to the hospital and/or consent to the surgery) and a list of prescription and over-the-counter medications and vitamin supplements, including the name and dose
  • Arrive on time

To make checking in at the hospital as stress-free as possible for you, we encourage you to take advantage of the free valet parking available at the Main Entrance circular drive off Bremo Road from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

at the hospital

After you arrive at St. Mary's Hospital, please check in at Patient Registration, located just inside and to the left of the ground floor Main Entrance. You and your child will be given an identification bracelet that you must wear at all times. After you've registered, you and your child will go to either Pre-Operative Main on the Ground Flooror Pre-Operative ASU (Ambulatory Surgery Unit) on the seventh floor, depending on the type of procedure your child will have.

You can stay with your child in the pre-operative assessment area. When it is close to the time for your child's surgery, you will be moved to a separate pediatric waiting area that has books, toys and a TV available to help calm your child. Before your child leaves for surgery, a member of your care team will go over the informed consent papers with you. Your child's surgeon, an anesthesiologist, and/or a surgical nurse will also meet with you and your child to introduce themselves and to answer any last-minute questions. Your child may be given a sedative to help him or her relax.

during surgery

Your child will be taken to the operating room and the surgery will begin. To help you be as comfortable as possible during your child's surgery, we can give you a pager that allows you to leave the waiting area for meals and breaks, worry free. Our surgical team will simply page you when we need to connect. If we page you, go to the information desk in the Surgical Waiting Area just off the First Floor Main Lobby to speak with a member of the surgical team. If the procedure is lengthy, we'll try to update you every hour.

after surgery

After the surgery, your child will be taken to the recovery area and the surgeon will talk to you about the procedure. A member of the care team will let you know when you can visit your child. Your child may be sleepy and may have bandages or be connected to an intravenous (IV) line.

For outpatient surgeries, your child can go home after recovering from anesthesia — usually after he or she is awake and alert and able to drink fluids.

For surgeries that require a hospital stay, your child will be moved from the recovery area to a hospital room on the Pediatric Unit after he or she is awake and comfortable. A member of the care team will explain your child's recovery.

going home

When it's time for your child to go home, we will provide you with post-operative instructions for your child's recovery at home, including wound care, things to watch for, when to contact your physician and any follow-up visits.

Call the hospital or the surgeon's office if your child:

  • Has unusual bleeding from the surgical site
  • Has a fever more than 101 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Has unusual redness on or discharge from the surgical site
  • Has unusual pain
  • Has trouble keeping food down

Whether it's talking to the surgeon or anesthesiologist to make sure you understand all aspects of the procedure, touring the facilities beforehand or attending a pre-operative class at St. Mary's Hospital, we'll be with you and your child every step of the way — easing any fear and uncertainty while providing the gentlest, most compassionate care possible.

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