Chances are if your child has been admitted to Hemby Children’s Hospital (Novant Health) or Levine Children’s Children Hospital (Carolinas Healthcare System) for a pediatric surgical problem, you have probably met Charlotte Steedly or Ronale Johnson. These extraordinary nurses are the glue that holds every piece of your hospital experience together. They make it a point to meet every family who needs general pediatric surgery, and they ensure the surgeon’s instructions are given to every part of the team.
For parents and caregivers who are headed to the hospital, here are a few words of advice from Charlotte and Ronale:
1. If you have a concern, never hesitate to share it with multiple members of the team. If you tell us “everything is fine,” then we might miss an opportunity to help.
2. Write things down, and keep a notebook with you if possible. Document every medication, the type and date of any previous surgery (or surgeries), and any symptoms of concern. Keep the notebook current so you don’t forget the details. If you want to look something up, ask the doctor to write down the exact spelling. Some doctors will even draw sketches/pictures to help you understand. These are worth keeping for reference when you need to explain the issue to a family member.
3. There are no dumb questions, but there are bad answers. Ask anything. If someone talks over your head in overly technical language, ask him or her to back up and explain it in different terms until you understand.
4. Not sure who does what? When people come into your room, ask them their role and where they fit into your treatment picture. Be sure to check the badge for their department – although all doctors are MDs and all nurses are RNs, they might not be on the same team.
5. Here are the most common abbreviations we are asked to clarify:
- Medical Doctor (could be a surgeon, resident or someone working on the case)
- PGY – Post Graduate Year (indicates the number of graduate years in training)
- R – Resident (are MDs)
- PA – Physician Assistant
- MS – Medical Student
- RN – Registered Nurse
- NP – Nurse Practitioners (these nurses can write prescriptions)
- CNA – Certified Nursing Assistant (these professionals can take vital signs, like height and weight, and can help change diapers and give baths)
- CRNA – Certified Nurse Anesthetist
- OR – Operating Room
- NPO – Take nothing orally (NPO is from the Latin term “nil per os,” which translates to “nothing by mouth”)
- MSW – Medical Social Worker
- FACS – Fellow of the American College of Surgeons
- FAAP – Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics
- APSA – American Pediatric Surgical Association
It is our goal to treat your child as if he or she were our own. You can request and expect that from every member of your medical team.