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Tips For Extended or Frequent

Hospital Visits

If your spouse, family member or other loved one has frequent trips to the hospital or other medical facility, planning ahead can make all the difference. Know your rights under the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act), including special military rules.

Tip #1 Start With The Basics

To save time and stress, keep a tote bag packed and within easy reach if there is an emergency. Add travel sized toothpaste and toothbrush, shampoo, lotion, deodorant, tissues, nail clippers, and shaving/grooming supplies. A small note pad and pen is also helpful when you need to change hospital rooms and phone numbers, or when the doctor gives you homework. While you have time and aren’t in a rush, add comfortable slippers, pajamas, underwear and other basics you know will be necessary so you won’t have to figure out what the patient meant when he or she told you what to bring from the house.

Tip #2 Convenience Helps

Especially if your loved one has chronic illness and periodic visits to the emergency room, add change for vending machines to the tote bag, along with a bottle of water and a few granola bars for you and/or the patient (if allowed). This is helpful if you are stuck in a temporary room at the emergency department and don’t have time or energy to look for food or water for a few hours. If the hospital or facility is large, such as Vidant Medical Center, take a few minutes to review their web site to find out about parking arrangements, a map of the buildings on campus, visiting hours and policies, and what types of restaurants are available (and their hours of operation).

Tip #3 The List  Medical Information

Trying to recall medical conditions, prescriptions, doctors and allergies is not always easy in non-emergency situations, let alone in an emergency. Keep a list of your loved one’s medical conditions, history of surgeries/procedures, and contact information for the pharmacy, doctors, and any other providers. At the top of the document, add the person’s name and the date the list was last updated, such as “Current as of March 15, 2018.” If you keep this info in a computer document, you can update it regularly. Consider taking a picture of the document with your phone so you will always have access to it, but do NOT include a date of birth, social security number, driver’s license or any information that could be used to steal his or her identity. Be sure to add your phone number to the patient’s phone entered as ICE, which means in case of emergency.

Tip #4 Keep Legal Documents With The List

Legal documents should be prepared in advance, and placed in the tote bag, along with “the list.” Everyone who is competent to execute legal documents should have a Healthcare Power of Attorney (HCPOA). It is a document that allows the patient to name an “agent” who can communicate his or her wishes related to medical treatment when the patient is unable to do so. HCPOAs can be provided to a hospital or facility in advance, to be placed in the patient’s file if needed in the future. Service members have special options created by federal law. There are several other types of important legal documents related to medical care. A patient should consult with an attorney for advice based on his or her specific circumstances.


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