Mar 23, 2023
Aimee chats with Dr. Katie Trammel, an emergency medicine physician, to discuss practical tips for supporting loved ones during a hospital stay. From checking visitor rules to keeping a notebook handy, Katie’s insights will leave listeners equipped to better support their friends and family members during an unexpected medical emergency.
Check the visitor rules.
Don’t assume that you just show up at the hospital as a guest. Even though the federal government is poised to lift the COVID-19 emergency, hospitals still sometimes limit visitors, especially during seasonal spikes in illness. Hospital websites can provide useful information about current visitor restrictions, and phone operators will also be able to assist you with finding the right floor and directions.
“You can always call the operator and they should be able to tell you at that moment what the restrictions are,” Katie said.
Have one point of contact.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a large group of supporters during a hospital stay, consider having one person to serve as a point of contact with the medical professionals. Katie recommends making this contact person someone who understands “medical speak” or who has been there from the beginning and knows all of the information.
“Having one person that speaks to everybody else is really helpful to both the patient and to the providers,” Katie said. “Because you have one contact person, that person can relay all the information to other people, and you don’t get bombarded with the same questions over and over.”
Keep pen and paper handy.
During a health emergency, there’s a lot to keep track of and remember. Providing your friend or family member with a pen and a notebook can help them easily document tests, medications, questions to ask, and the names of the professionals who have helped them.
“People are coming at you from every direction, so it’s really easy to forget things,” Katie said. “A notebook is a great idea.”
Bring comforts from home.
A hospital stay can be uncomfortable and unexpected. To make a stay a little easier for a friend or family member, bring some of their personal items from home. Items to consider include:
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Blankets and pillows
Shampoo and soaps
Warm socks and slippers
“Inevitably a cell phone charge is one of the biggest things people ask for,” Katie said. “We do have phone chargers available, but that’s not always a guaranteed thing.”
Offer to help outside of the hospital.
Just because someone is in the hospital, household to-do items don’t stop or resolve on their own. One big way to help a friend or family member during a hospital stay is to take care of the home items, such as:
Cleaning unwashed dishes
Doing the laundry
Getting the mail
“A big barrier sometimes to people getting admitted is that there are so many things at home that need to be taken care of,” Katie said “Nobody plans to have an emergency where they had to be admitted, but it happens.”
Put your medical information in your phone.
An emergency can happen at any time, which is why it’s helpful to have your medical information accessible. Most smartphones, including Apple iPhones, have an emergency screen that medical providers can access without unlocking your phone. This feature allows hospital staff to see crucial information, such as your medications, medical history, allergies, and emergency contact.
“If you arrive at the hospital and you can’t talk for whatever reason, people can access that and at least have some information to start with,” Katie said.
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About Aimee and WhatFriendsDo
Aimee Kandrac is a speaker, consultant, and the co-founder and CEO of WhatFriendsDo. Her work is instrumental for organizing support during life-changing events, and she speaks to organizations about creative ways to help friends and family during times of crisis. Aimee has been recognized as a Top 50 Mompreneur by Babble.com and is the first female CEO in the state of Indiana to close a $500,000 funding round. She has been featured in Forbes, Time, the LA Times, Oprah.com, the Indianapolis Star, and more.
WhatFriendsDo is a simpler way to create organized and actionable support during a time of crisis. The free, online platform empowers healthcare facilities, HR departments, families, and friends to easily coordinate meals, errands, transportation, childcare, communication, and more for those in the midst of a life-changing event. The women-founded and women-led company started as a solution for a friend with terminal cancer. WhatFriendsDo is based out of Indianapolis.