Hospital Stays

What to Expect

Hospitalization of your child can be a difficult and stressful experience.Having an idea of what to expect and preparing ahead of time for an upcoming hospitalization can help to make the experience easier for everyone.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is in charge of my child's care?

When your child is hospitalized you can meet many new healthcare providers in a short period of time. It can be confusing to understand

  • different people’s roles
  • what each person is responsible for
  • how each contributes to your child’s care

The list below identifies many of the healthcare providers you may meet during this time and explains what their roles and responsibilities can be in your child’s care plan.

Your child’s Inpatient Medical Team can be made up of the following healthcare professionals:

  • Attending Physician
  • Gastroenterology (GI) Fellow
  • Pediatric Resident
  • Nursing Team
  • Nutritionist / Dietician
  • Child Life Specialist
  • Pediatric Radiologist

Attending Physician
This doctor is the senior doctor, gastroenterologist, who directs and is ultimately responsible for the care of all children admitted to the hospital under the Gastroenterology service.

The Attending Physician can:

  • perform any GI procedures that your child may need while in the hospital, sometimes with the assistance of a GI Fellow
  • see and examine each patient during rounds, or bedside visits sometime with the inpatient medical team at these visits
  • be the healthcare provider that keeps in close contact with your child’s outpatient team if not your child’s regular doctor

Your child may have more than one AP if he or she is hospitalized over a weekend.


  • Medical School – 4 years
  • Pediatric Residency – 3 years
  • Specialty Fellowship Training in Pediatric GI – 3 years

GI Fellow
This doctor is a specialist in pediatric gastroenterology that often works closely with the Attending Physician. 

The GI Fellow can

  • examine children who are admitted to the GI Service
  • develop your child’s plan of care
  • supervise residents on your child’s inpatient medical team
  • perform GI procedures under the direct supervision of the Attending Physician


  • Medical School – 4 years
  • Pediatric Residency – 3 years

Pediatric Resident
A Pediatric Resident is assigned to your child when he or she is admitted to the hospital. Pediatric Residents are in the hospital 24 hours a day, on a rotating basis, to monitor your child’s symptoms and can

  • intervene in the case of an emergency
  • perform your child’s physical exam each day
  • review his or her medical history
  • record symptoms daily
  • help to schedule tests, procedures and medication orders 
  • Senior Residents in the 2nd or 3rd year of their pediatric residency program supervises and teaches the other residents on rotation.


  • Medical School – 4 years
  • Pediatric Residency (in process)

The nurses on your child’s inpatient medical team can be specially educated in the care of children with GI problems. The nurses can

  • carry out the plan of care for your child that has been developed by the GI Fellow and approved by the Attending Physician
  • help to coordinate home care when your child is ready to be discharged from the hospital

Primary Nurse
Your child will be assigned a Primary Nurse who can

  • be in charge of his or her immediate care over an entire shift
  • share information and update your child’s medical team before rounds, on an as-needed basis and when a change of shift occurs and another Primary Nurse takes over your child’s care.

Ostomy Nurse(also called a WOC Nurse –Wound Ostomy and Continence Nurse) 
If your child has an ostomy or is having one considered or simply an area of skin breakdown you may have the opportunity to see an Ostomy Nurse. The Ostomy Nurse can

  • give preoperative counseling to help you and your child prepare for surgery
  • help you to know what to expect after surgery
  • help care for your child during the remainder of their hospital stay
  • teach your child and your family about what will be involved in daily homecare once you leave the hospital

Ostomy education for your child and family can include detailed information on

  • specific care procedures
  • ostomy medications
  • skin care procedures
  • stool collection devices
  • how to order supplies and dressing

Pediatric Radiologist

The Pediatric Radiologist can

  • meet with your child’s Inpatient Medical Team
  • choose the imaging tests that will best help to diagnose or treat your child
  • help to make sure that your child’s imaging tests are done correctly and safely.

Once the testing is done, the Pediatric Radiologist can read the results of the tests and make a diagnosis.


What items can we bring from home?

In many hospitals, children are allowed to bring things like

  • pillow
  • blanket
  • favorite toy / stuffed animal
  • books
  • DVDs
  • pajamas/slippers

It can be helpful to have your child participate in getting ready for the hospitalization by picking out and packing these items with you.

Most hospitals do not allow electronic devices like

  • video games
  • mp3 player as they can be easily misplaced or stolen.
What about school absences?

By law, your child cannot be penalized when he or she misses school because of a hospitalization for Pedi IBD related health issues.It can be helpful to speak with your school ahead of time if the procedure is planned and you know when and approximately for how long your child will be hospitalized. If your child is hospitalized unexpectedly, let the school know as soon as possible so that your child’s teachers can begin to prepare take home assignments.If your child has a 504 plan in place at school, the plan will let you know how missed class time will be handled.  It is important to let the 504 coordinator know as soon as your child has been hospitalized or ahead of time if possible.Some hospitals have a schoolroom located at the hospital. When this is the case, children are helped to go to the hospital school when they are able to.At times, teachers may even be available to visit patients in their rooms when a child is not well enough to get to the hospital schoolroom.

Can I sleep at the hospital, too?
Many hospitals allow a parent or guardian to stay overnight in their child’s room. Hospitals may provide
  • cots, sheets and pillows
  • reclining chair
Parent meal trays are often available from the hospital’s food service. Trays are usually delivered with the patient’s tray or at a requested time if the patient is not eating. Prices for this service vary though they are usually lower than what cafeteria prices would be.
Sources include our friends at the AAP and NASPGHAN

Still have questions?