From Comments from Margaret Henry, RN, BSN, OCN, Nurse Navigator with OHC. Original article by Kristine Crane, Contributor, U.S. News & World Report

October 10, 2018

Margaret Henry, RN, BSN, OCN, nurse navigator with OHC

A visit to the hospital never makes the list of favorite destinations, but packing some comfort items can make it feel a little more comfortable and home or hotel-like. Think of your stay like any other road trip and pack accordingly.

  1. Loose, warm and comfortable clothing. Bring a cardigan or hoodie to cover up with in case you get chilly – even though you might not be able to wear it right away. What you wear depends on what kind of access the staff has to have to your body. Heart surgery patients, for example, need to have accessible chests. But there are still ways to stay warm, such as a soft shawl.
  2. Your own pillow. Hospital pillows tend to be firm and sometimes covered in plastic, so give your head a rest. The u-shaped pillows commonly taken on airplanes are a good option. Often patients find themselves in a hospital bed whose top half has been raised a bit, which prevents them from sleeping on their sides. The u-shaped pillows let you sleep on your back a little more comfortably. She also brings brightly-colored pillow cases for good cheer – and so they don’t get mixed in with the hospital’s laundry.
  3. Your own toiletries. Hospitals provide the basics. Travel-sized toiletries are practical and may make your stay feel more like a trip. Choose a disposable toothbrush and leave yours at home.
  4. Flip-flops. They are sanitary and easy to put on. Most slippers have backs that you have to slide your foot into, and bending down to do that can be hard for some patients. Plus, who doesn’t associate flip-flops with Florida, beaches and summer fun?
  5. Earplugs and earphones. Earplugs can drown out unwanted noises like medical equipment, your roommate or staff. Earphones can serve the same purpose, while adding an extra layer of comfort – letting you listen to your favorite tunes.
  6. Movies or TV shows. Take your laptop and watch your favorite movie or TV shows. Keep it light. Go for comfort movies – the ones you’ve seen 20 times. Binge watch episodes of “Friends.” Plus with your laptop you can email friends and family with your health updates.
  7. Laundry lists of your medications, doctors, family and friends. The list of medications is crucial. If they’re going to prescribe anything, they need to know about any medications you take because of potential counter-indications. Also, names and phone numbers of all doctors.
  8. Pen and paper. At the oddest moments, you’ll find yourself reaching for a pen and paper. You can jot down questions for your doctors or notes to yourself for when you get home.
  9. Scents. Plug-in scents or essential oils can give your hospital a real lift, but ask the staff for permission first. You may have a roommate who is allergic to the scent. If you are permitted, there are certain oils that some people believe have a calming, relaxing effect, or they may remind you of home. You could also pack a scented candle for your bedside table, but do not light it.
  10. Drugstore supplies. Go to a drugstore and get things like lotion, tissues, shampoo. Not only will you have your favorites, but you can save money too. The hospital won’t have to provide and charge you for these items.

Your care team at OHC can help you identify items you might need while in the hospital. Just talk with your nurse navigator for suggestions or call OHC at 1-800-710-4674.

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