View Full Version : ? about spending time in the hospital

02-15-2010, 08:10 AM
Obviously, a lot of us have spen tmore than our fair share of time in the hospital with our kids. Can you tell me what you do about meals while you are there? Our hospital used to give each family a $3.50 meal voucher for the cafeteria each day. While you could never eat even one meal for that amount, it did help to offset the cost of my meals. Due to budget cuts, they are no longer providing this. I am not so concerned about myself...although even $5.00 a day adds up when you are there for 7-8 weeks at a time...I am more concerned about some of the other families. I am trying to write a letter to the family advocacy group and the president of the hospital but I would like to offer them some alternatives. My only idea is to give the families some sort of discount, like the staff discount. We live an hour from the hospital, I am usually here without a car, and I do not leave Keyan except to run down and get food. I know that I am not the only person in this situation and I do not think that hospital officials understand that some peole have no alternative but to eat in their cafeteria. I worry about those families that absolutly can not afford to do this. We all know how stressful it is to have a sick child, let alone all of the worries about the other stuff. There will be people who are going hungry at the hospital...isn't there something wrong with that? Whill you please share your experiences with me so that I can get a better understanding of how other families survive this and what your hospital does or doesn't do? Thanks so much!

02-15-2010, 09:05 AM
Neither hospital we've been at has any offset to the costs.

Our home hospital had a fridge in the parent's lounge in the NICU; they have a fridge in the unit "pantry" on the PICU ward, along with small fridges in the rooms - the pantry has fruit and yogurt and a few other snack-type foods that parents can have, along with coffee and water. They do have $5 vouchers that nursing supervisors and a few others can give out at their discretion - we got some the week Alexander had his trach surgery.

I also was given a couple the weekend of Barry's car accident, because the NP on duty that first night thought I really needed a good stiff drink, but figured some strong coffee was the next best thing - I'd been at the hosptial since 7:30 that morning, and it was 11 pm and I was still there pumping. Everyone checked on me that weekend to make sure I'd slept and eaten (by then we'd been there almost 5 months and were the longest residents at the time).

Their vouchers are good at any gift shop too, which is actually where I used mine, because they had some awesome dragons that I wanted for Alexander :)

The other hospital....well, let's just say that after the above experience, it's not even close to comfortable. There's a lounge outside the NICU/PICU with a large fridge...if you can find space. The lounge was always packed with people - there was never a place to sit, and it's the only place for parents to sleep as well. The cafeteria was awful, too, by the way, but they also have a Subway, Wendys, and Quiznos in the hospital complex.

02-15-2010, 09:46 AM
When Addisyn was in the NICU, the hospital gave me a button and that gave us a discount in the cafeteria. When she was admitted at other times, the hospital would bring a meal for me to her room because I was breastfeeding. She hasn't been admitted since I stopped breastfeeding, but I imagine I would just get another button for a discount.

02-15-2010, 10:10 AM
The hospital where Joseph spent his first month of life did not have any sort of discount or program, but it had a parent lounge right outside the NICU doors(paid for and built by Mario Lemiuex after his son spent several mos in NICU) it had a large fridge/freezer: microwave: sink: and a machine that gave free coffee,tea, or hot choc.(also had a pay drink &chip machine) I brought frozen entrees/can soup and cooked while I was there...

We then went to childrens hosp~they gave $5meal vouchers up to 3xday if you were breastfeeding.. so I used that; when I was there recently (no longer breastfeeding) there is a program that gives out "bag lunches" that include sandwich(sometimes includes lunchmeat; pb&j; or even just cheese on bread), juice box, piece fruit... nothing fancy but sure helps when you are hungry(and helps to offset your meals to having to pay only once a day if you need more) you do not have to show need or anything.. just have to get to information desk early in morning to get before they run out
I believe the social workers in the units can give out vouchers/cash if they feel you show a real need.. I never received any but was asked a few times if I needed assistance-but turned it down because I was able to have my DH bring food when he visited in the nights

When we went up to Columbus(4 hours from home) we were on a floor and parents were allowed to use the sink and microwave in the formula room (and small fridge).. I usually made micro mac & cheese;soup or noodle mix.. so i didnt need refrigeration and I could store the stuff in our room ....I was told there was free cereal avail all day(until 8pm) in the social room-but never went for it because I could not leave Josephs room. They also had a program that parents could purchase meal trays for $5. they included entree/2sides/fruit/drink/dessert/ bread or crackers/ snack item ~so they were worth the money and I usually ordered stuff that was able to be kept and eatten throughout the day.

02-15-2010, 12:35 PM
Riley has fridges in the parent lounge, but they're usually pretty full. The Ronald McDonald Houses (both the small one inside the hospital and the main one across the street) had free food, but there wasn't much variety. It was almost always either sloppy joe's or some sort of pasta. We were inpatient for nearly a year, and once we got home it was months before I could stand to look at either. To this day I still don't like sloppy joe's. As another option, the social workers had access to a trust fund that allowed each family $35, but I think you could only use it once a month.

02-15-2010, 12:50 PM
I think all hospitals, and even different departments in hospitals are different. At our local hospital meals are provided free to breastfeeding mothers, and if you are staying at the hospital you can also get a voucher which you take to the hospital canteen and get staff discount. If there was any food left on the trolley which came round for the children they would sell meals to parents for 1 (we always got free food cos we were so well known to the staff, and Sam was tube fed so wasn't eating hospital food!). At the children's hospital it is very different. On the ward Sam was always admitted to when he was trached absolutely nothing was provided. there was a fridge and a microwave, toaster and kettle, but you had to bring all your own food or go the canteen or out to get something. On the ward where he was last week (same hospital) they provided tea, coffee, milk and bread and butter for toast to parents.

I think what you're trying to do is a great idea!:) :)

Ainsley's Mom
02-15-2010, 01:34 PM
I got three free meals a day while I was breastfeeding (pumping) but then nothing after I stopped. Luckily paying for cafeteria food has not been a hardship for us, but we've spent very little time in the hospital other than a few days at a time for surgeries. Our hospital does have a refrigerator on each floor (and a microwave and water machine as well as free cracker packages) that parents can use. I see a lot of parents bring food from the grocery store and label it with their names (a lot of frozen dinners esp). That is handy too, if you just don't like the cafeteria food. I think it's great that you bring this up with them your hospital. A discount card for parents of hospitalized kids seems like a great idea. Maybe even just for parents with kids that are there for more than a few days. Good luck, hope you get results!

02-15-2010, 01:55 PM
when I was pumping, I got 3 meals from the caf, and I pumped until 5.5 months when they decided to do formula. Now that I am not, I get one 5 dollar voucher. There is a fridge in the family room on the floor. And there are usually puddings, coffee, tea, jello, bread, peanut butter and jelly spreads. If you have a frequent flier and have long stays it can add up. I was starting to eat poorly during the last few weeks of our last stay, just getting instant mac and cheese and stuff that was cheap. It is a problem though, staying in the hospital gets very expensive.

02-15-2010, 02:35 PM
Evan was in the hospital for seven months, we were NEVER offered any help from the hospital. The first two months I slept in his room, I had to eat twice a day in the cafeteria at at the least 5 dollars a meal. Then I was only coming on weekends I stayed at the RMH I could eat the food there.
I do know many other parents were given vouchers, but I had to much pride to ask. On top of the food the parking was 1.50 an hour or 18 dollars a day. Again there were vouchers but no one knew where to get them.

02-15-2010, 03:32 PM
when emily was in PICU for a long period we were really lucky, cos my parents were around a lot and did a lot of homemade cooking that they packed up for us, (and the odd packup from friends, too) and we had the ronald macdonald house with brilliant facilities for cooking ourselves.

short stays since then are actually harder! the wards have kitchens (microwave, toaster), but you can't use the facilities to cook food for yourself, only for the kids. we end up eating too much junk, although i try to make stuff at home like nice pastas etc to bring in. trouble is when you get home at night you can't always be bothered.

tbh i think the policies on the wards are needlessly unhelpful towards parents.

02-15-2010, 03:39 PM
When I was pumping, I got 3 meals per day delivered to Alex's room like any patient. A nearby church brought us supper for about 2 weeks once we were allowed to room in. We were not members, and they didn't care. We needed help, and that was all that mattered. It just took one of us having the guts to call.

During some of the surgeries, I bought some of those dry meals in a bowl (just add water and microwave). They cost about $1.

02-15-2010, 03:52 PM
The Children's Hospital here got an outside grant to pay for the parents to receive one meal a day Mon-Fri. it's a sandwich or salad, chips and a cookie or fruit. This helps a great deal. It does get very expensive eating while having a kid in the hospital and I think many times parents go without. You might try to find a company in the area to give a grant. Good Luck!

Kamilah's Mommy
02-15-2010, 06:13 PM
At the hospital where kamilahs at, I don't remember them ever giving us a food tray or voucher while she was in the nicu. So I would just buy someting in the cafeteria. But now that we are in the picu we get "free" breakfast, lunch and dinner trays for one parent.
But sometimes some of the nurses don't seem to offer them to us or to other patients parents. I have no idea why because the trays of food are there for us. I have gotten to the point where I just grab the food tray myself. Lol. I mean kamilahs been in the PICU for almost six months now and a couple of months ago a nurse finally told me if I knew I had a meal tray in the fridge for me. Ugh, I was so pissed that no one had ever offered it to me before. Hahaha.

02-15-2010, 06:31 PM
Thanks so much for all of the info...please keep it coming. I find it so sad that there is such a lack of comprehension over what parents go thru. During our 10 months in the NICU, there was no offer, and than like several of you, while I was pumping, I was given a meal tray but after that up until a year ago, there was nothing...which I find ironic since we have to bring Keyan's food with us because they do not carry her type of formula, so they are not even providing food for Keyan!!! Anyhow, I know that the families were spoiled with the meal vouchers over the last year but I really think there needs to be something in place.
Anyhow....tell me more!!! Anyone have any other ideas that I could present to the hospital? Thanks!


02-15-2010, 06:41 PM
I would definitely talk to the social worker on your unit. Maybe s/he would have some good ideas. Do you have a Guest Services at your hospital? Maybe they have some discount tickets as well (I know in Cinci, they can get you discount/free tickets for area attractions).

And if you have any friends/family members saying, "Let me know what I can do." There you go. Can they make a meal and bring it to you? Can they order something and have it delivered for you?

If we have a planned stay, I try to pack snacks, juice boxes, granola bars, etc. On the floors, they usually have the small cans of pop, applesauce, cereal, small cartons of milk, etc.


02-15-2010, 07:01 PM
When Logan was inpatient, we got two tokens a day to use in the vending machine... (yay).
We had a family lounge in the NICU and the PICU--they had a fridge and microwave, and pantry space for families to keep groceries. We also had a locker for things we didn't want to "walk off"...
We stayed at the RM house, but I agree that the variety wasn't the greatest...

I was told by a friend that since Logan is on medicaid, that there are reimbursements for things like food, lodging, and mileage... We have put in for reimbursement once for an appointment in September.

I would think the social worker would be able to do something--maybe contact some agencies like the Children's Miracle Network, March of Dimes, something???

Good luck!

02-16-2010, 08:25 AM
Does the hospital have any near by cafes or shops? (might not be great if you cant be away for too long but for people who have time to run over or where there are say two of you and one can go then it might work)

Because you could try to draw up an agreement with the shops and cafes. Something like the ward staff will recommend parents to use those shops on the condition that they have some sort of discount scheme, for example 20% off the price for parents. The shops would benefit from the extra trade and the parents would get a discount.

Also, I am in the UK and I really dont like hospital food (partly due to being on adults where most people are elderly and so the food tends to be mash and tasteless meat) But I now know of a few different places within the area that will deliver to me. There is a cafe with things like hot sandwiches and english breakfast, a Chinese/indian type place and a pizza place. While not the healthiest of food, it often does work out cheaper, especially if you can order something and share with someone. (again the hospital could try to draw up some type of agreement with places that may deliver in the area)

02-16-2010, 09:51 AM
Our local hospital only provides meals to moms who are breastfeeding. Everyone else can either store their food in the fridge (if there's room), or buy meals from McDonald's or the cafeteria.

I get a little disturbed by the whole breastfeeding/meal situation since many of the parents with kids in the hospital aren't able to breastfeed, yet they still need to eat! My suggestion would be to provide free meals to those who truly need them, and to give all the other parents a discount. As of right now, the cafeteria doesn't offer any discounts to immediate family members, only hospital employees. :(

02-21-2010, 10:33 AM
Our Children's Hospital offers 3 vouchers which are worth 7 dollars each to one parent while you are staying there. Breastfeeding or no.
And they will deliver meal trays for both parents who are staying at the hospital as long as you are there in the AM when the nutritionist comes around to take your order. It's not great...we would end up with the mystery meat and potato dinners, but it's better than straight oreos and apple juice from the parent's lounge.
I never realized how convenient they made that for us. But yeah, they did.

02-21-2010, 11:01 AM
No vouchers, but each parent gets a parental clip on badge that you are supposed to wear the entire time you are on the floor with your child. It also gives you a 10% food disc in the cafeteria.

Even the 10% disc doesn't mean much though when the prices are so high! $5 for a hamburger...$3 for a small fry....$2 for a small pop.

We usually just bring a small cooler full of what we need as meals...then I pack a bag of snacks too.

We have micros and fridges available to us in the parent lounge also. Even though you mark it with your name and room number...ppl will still go through stuff and if they want it, they take it, so we try not to use that fridge anymore unless it's absolutely necessary.

02-21-2010, 01:47 PM
Here, Breastfeeding Mum's get meals, nothing for any other parents, other than tea, coffee and biscuits and a microwave to reheat. I can't even eat microwave meals now, having lived on them for about 6 months when Dominic was a baby. What made it worse was I often stayed with Dominic 24/7 and so had to ask a nurse to cover while I went out for food - it used to drive me mad when they said they were too busy.

Our local hospital also charges a fortune to use the car park (no exemption if your child is an inpatient either), I ended up getting the bus to save money. And it also cost a fortune to use the patient bedside phone. Just wanted to add this too in case you wanted to widen your fight!

02-21-2010, 08:31 PM
Parking is free at our two local hospitals, but the childrens hospital charges because it's on a college campus (so the $ goes to the college, not the hospital). You can get one free pass out of the garage per day if your child is inpatient, but you have to pay if you're just there for a clinic visit.