American Family Children’s Hospital
Welcome to the American Family Children’s Hospital
Getting ready for your child’s surgery is very important. It involves much more than lab tests
and clinic visits. It’s knowing what to expect before and after surgery. Also, it is a process of
gaining confidence and believing that all will go well.
Before your child’s work-up visit, please read this booklet. Write down any questions and bring
them with you to the visit. Please bring this booklet with you. Your nurse will review it with
you and answer your questions.
Preparing Your Child
A visit to the hospital may be new and perhaps scary for a child. One of the best ways to help
prepare your child for this event is to thoughtfully explain what will happen before the day of
All children are unique. When and how to talk with your child depends on the child’s age and
personality. Use language your child knows and allow him to ask questions and express
concerns. Younger children should be told about surgery close to the event. A toddler may be
told the day before. A school age child could be told the week in advance. Give basic
information. Answer your child’s question the best you can.
If you are unsure about what to tell your child,
child life specialists at AFCH can help you and
may be reached at (608) 890-7888.
What to Expect during Your Child’s Work-Up Visit
You can expect the work-up visit to take 4 hours. You will meet with many members of the
health care team during this time. Your child will have some tests (electrocardiogram, chest x-
ray, blood tests) performed. You will be asked to sign a consent form for surgery. Bring medical
records, recent history and physical forms, immunization records, X-rays, and any other
test results to the work-up visit.
You may also meet with a child life specialist. She can talk with you about going into the OR the
day of surgery until your child is sleeping. You will also discuss how you can be helpful during
the hospital stay. Your child will have a chance to see medical play equipment. You will be
given a tour of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) if you wish. There are also online tours
of American Family Children’s Hospital that can be found at www. uwhealth.kids.org
At some point during the day, you will need to stop at the Admissions Department to verify
You will be given the time for your child's surgery the day before the surgery (or on Friday
before a Monday surgery). A nurse will call you at your home or place of work. She will let you
know when to arrive and answer any questions that you might have. If you do not hear from us
by 2:00 pm, please call (608) 890-8000 and ask for the 3rd floor AFCH surgical services.
If your child has been exposed to chicken pox, has a cold, fever, or other illness the day before
surgery, please call (608) 263-0439 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
If it is after hours the night before surgery and your child gets a fever, come as scheduled
and your child will be examined with the understanding that surgery will be cancelled.
To help things go smoothly, please follow these instructions.
1. Ibuprofen (such as Children’s Motrin® or Advil®) and herbal supplements should be stopped
14 days before surgery. Plavix should be stopped 7 days before surgery. Aspirin (and
medicines which contain aspirin such as Pepto Bismol®) should be stopped 5 days before
surgery. Coumadin® and warfarin should be stopped 3 days before surgery. If your child
takes any of these medicines, please let your surgeon or nurse know. Acetaminophen
(Tylenol®) may be used if needed for pain or fever.
2. The night before surgery, shower or bathe your child with a special antibacterial soap. This
soap will be given to you in the clinic. Avoid getting it near your child’s eyes or genitals.
Do not apply lotion to your child’s skin after the shower. The soap will be given to you by
the learning center nurse during your child’s work up visit.
3. The night before surgery, your child will need to stop eating solid foods at midnight. Also,
no candy or chewing gum. Your child will need to stop drinking milk and formula 6 hours
before surgery. If you are breastfeeding, the last feeding should be finished 4 hours before
surgery. Two hours before surgery, your child will need to stop drinking clear liquids (apple
juice, water, or Pedialyte®). This will prevent stomach contents from getting into your
4. Your provider will give you instructions about your child’s medicine plan. We may ask that
you stop some of your child’s medicines before surgery. This will be reviewed at your child’s
5. When your child brushes her teeth, she may rinse and spit, but not swallow any water.
6. Remove all makeup and nail polish. Remove all jewelry, and for safe keeping, please keep
7. Your child should try to have a restful night before surgery. If you are coming
from out of town, you may find it helpful to stay in Madison the night before. A
Ronald McDonald House is nearby for children and families who receive care at
the American Family Children’s Hospital. A housing coordinator,
(608) 890-8000, can arrange for your stay there or provide you with a list of
nearby motels where you can get a discount rate. You may also stop at the Guest
Depot on the first floor of AFCH. After hours, please call (608) 263-8591.
If your child has a favorite toy or blanket please bring it (labeled with your child’s
name) to comfort him while in the hospital. You may also bring some of your
child’s own pajamas and slippers or comfortable clothing for him to wear once transferred
out of the intensive care unit. You may also want to bring reading materials or something
for yourself to do while your child is hospitalized. A television, DVD player, and CD player
in your child’s room can be used at no charge.
8. Please bring along glasses, hearing aids, or other special devices your child may need.
Include any special feeding devices or the nipple or drinking cup your infant or toddler
prefers. Be sure these items are labeled with your child’s name.
9. Leave large sums of money at home. Bring a small sum for miscellaneous expenses.
The Day of Surgery
Please arrive by your scheduled time.
Park in the AFCH Ramp (map in back cover of this book)
Upon entering the AFCH Ramp, you will receive a parking stub. Please bring it with you
to get it stamped. Do not leave it in your car. Parking is free.
Take the elevator from the parking ramp to Level 1.
Get your parking stub stamped at the Security Desk or Guest Depot, located on level 1.
Take the AFCH elevators (marked with ) up to Level 3.
Check in at the Reception Area.
Since your child is under age 18, a parent or legal guardian must remain in the hospital
during surgery unless special arrangements have been made with the anesthesia and
In the Operating Room
One parent may be able to go with your child into the
operating room. If you choose to go with your child and the
anesthesiologist agrees with this plan, you will be asked to
change into a protective gown and hat. A child life specialist
or nurse will go with you and your child. You may touch and
talk to your child while she falls asleep.
The room will be brightly lit. A nurse will be there to explain
what is being done. Once in the room, your child will be
moved to a narrow, firm bed with a safety belt much like a
seat belt. A blood pressure cuff will be put on your child’s
arm. Sticky patches will be placed on her chest to watch her
heartbeat. A special tape or lighted clip will be put on her
finger or ear to check the oxygen level in the blood.
Once the anesthetic has taken effect, you will be shown to the waiting area. You will be given a
pager and receive text messages about how your child is doing during surgery. Your child’s
doctor will talk with you after the surgery.
Your child will be taken to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). Your child may also be
placed on a breathing machine (ventilator). Your child will not be able to talk while the
breathing tube is in his windpipe. As he begins to wake up, the nurses will be able to
communicate with him very well despite this. Once awake, older children should be able to nod
“yes” and “no” or use a notepad to write brief messages until the tube is removed. The breathing
tube may be taken out within an hour or longer.
Soon after the breathing tube is removed, your child will be asked to breathe deeply, cough, and
use the incentive spirometer or blow bubbles to exercise the lungs. The child will learn how to
do these simple lung exercises during the clinic visit.
Nursing staff members must be with your child the first time he gets up. The child may need
some help for a few days. Even though the child may feel weak and sore, he needs to get out of
bed and walk. This helps to decrease any lung problems and risk of infection.
Your child will be unable to eat right after surgery and most often not for the first night. At first,
the child will be given fluids and nourishment through an IV (intravenous) line. Over the next
few days, the child’s diet will progress from ice chips, to clear liquids (Pedialyte , juice, or
gelatin) to full liquids (formula, milk, ice cream) to solid food.
More details about what to expect will be discussed during the work-up visit.
About American Family Children's Hospital
Your child will be taken to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Having a parent present can be a
comfort to a child in the hospital. Once your child is settled in the PICU, you are welcome to be
with your child as much as you wish. Because you know your child best, you are a valued
member of the health care team. Plan to take part in your child’s care as much as you are able.
In the PICU, parents are welcome to be at the bedside. One parent is allowed to sleep in your
child’s room. There are also sleep rooms located in the PICU that are available as needed. For
persons other than primary caregivers, visiting hours are from 9:00 AM - 9:00 PM. Because
children are often busy with treatments and cares during the day, late afternoon and evening are
the best times for friends to visit. There is a family kitchen equipped with a refrigerator and
microwave available for your use. You may also purchase food from the cafeteria or room
service guest tray is available for purchase.
How long your child stays in the hospital depends on the type of surgery. Before leaving, you
will meet with the heart surgery care team, and we will talk with you about how to care for your
child at home. A discharge planner will talk with you about any special needs your child may
have at home.
You will also receive prescriptions for any medicines your child will need. These can be filled
here, if your insurance allows, or at your local pharmacy. Please bring your insurance card if
you plan to fill your prescriptions at the AFCH pharmacy.
You may want to have someone else drive the car so that you can attend to your child on the way
home. Also, be sure to arrange to have your child's car seat here for discharge.
When your child returns home, it may take up to 6 weeks for the child (and family) to resume
normal routines. Your child may return to school or work after your first clinic visit and to
daycare in 4 weeks. During the clinic visit and hospital stay, nurses and doctors will give you
further instructions on how to care for your child at home.
Please write down any questions you have. Discuss them with your nurses and doctor.
Admissions and Insurance Advisors (608) 263-8770
(Financial Counselors) E5/213
AFCH Hospital Information (608) 890-8000
General Billing Office (608) 262-2221
Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (608) 263-8049
Pediatric Cardiology Clinic (608) 263-6420
Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery Office (608) 263-0439
Child Life Department (608) 890-7888
Hospital Paging Operator (608) 262-0486
Patient Information (608) 263-8590
(Room number and location)
Patient Relations Office (608) 263-8009
Patient & Family Learning Center (608) 890-8039
Spiritual Care Services (608) 263-8574
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you have
any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This is not
medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each person’s health
needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using this information. If
you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright 1/2016 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority.
All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5446
From HWY 12/18, watch for Exit 258 (Midvale Boulevard/Verona Road). Take this exit
and turn right (heading north) on Midvale Boulevard. After about 2.5 miles, you will come
to a traffic light at University Avenue. Turn right (east) on University and merge into the left
lane. About 1 mile later, turn left (heading north) on University Bay Drive. Continue about
100 yards. The parking entrance to the American Family Children’s Hospital will be
immediately on your right. (Note: If you pass the Emergency Department entrance, you have
gone too far.)