10 tips for your Seattle Children's Hospital visit
I wanted to put together a short, quick "guide" of sorts to some of the key features and amenities of Seattle Children's Hospital, no matter what your visit looks like there! Over the past 9 months, we have done a lot of things at Children's, from discussing our son's Spina Bifida diagnosis, multiple surgeries, inpatient stays, emergency visits, and of course, our clinic visits to Neurosurgery, Neurodevelopment, Urology, Pulmonary, Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy, and ENT (to name a few lol).
No matter what your reason for having to take your young kid to a hospital, it can be overwhelming, and if you're like me, you like to be prepared for what to expect.
Here are the top 10 things I have come up with to share with you what to expect out of your visit to SCH:
Valet Parking. They have free valet parking for you at both the Ocean entrance and the Emergency Department (and they do not take tips so you don’t even have to worry about that). They won’t park your car if you have any signs of Covid (which is basically every symptom ever) but it’s worth a shot! Upon discharge, you’ll text your ticket number to their valet line, and they will ask which area of the hospital you'd like your car delivered to (A. Emergency Department or B. Ocean Entrance). You can also always go out an exit and ask security to have Valet bring your car to that area if you weren't sure which exit you were taking. If you aren’t able to have your car valet parked for whatever reason, There is parking on Ocean 8 (uncovered), and Ocean 7 (covered) entrances. They have emergency department street parking close to the entrance and Valet can also help guide you to other parking locations. Here is some more information about SCH Directions and parking to the main campus in Seattle.
Gift Cards. If you have a friend in SCH, or you are in the hospital with your kid and people are asking for ways to help, Seattle Children's offers room service gift cards for either $25 or $50. This is great because caretakers do not get free meals while staying in the hospital, and even though the food is inexpensive, it can add up for you to eat there all day (then for multiple days). Pro tip: as a nursing/pumping mama, you get a $10 voucher per meal! You technically have to be pumping a certain number of times per day, but they can always make exceptions if you ask! People can also purchase gift cards for the actual gift shop! There are a lot of great items and activities for both adults and kids, as well as a lot of items from locally sourced artists and small businesses. Purchase Gift Cards here. I have also heard you can use your SCH gift cards in the cafeteria and may even receive a discount on your purchases (I have NOT confirmed this yet but will update once I do).
Starbucks. There are two Starbucks kiosks in the hospital, one on the 7th floor of the Ocean entrance (where surgery and clinical patients go), and one on the 3rd floor of the River entrance (where admitted patients are). They used to have a 24-hour kiosk in the Emergency Department but I believe it is under construction! If friends or family offer to help, they can always email you a Starbucks gift card for you to load onto your app! Pro tip: most of the time you can order ahead for pick up at these locations so as you are finishing up a doctor's appt, you can have Starbucks ready for pick up once you are done, making it so you don’t have to wait in line!
Food Delivery. Most dining delivery services (UberEATS, DoorDash, etc) deliver to the hospital. So if you are admitted for longer than you can stand the hospital food (which is actually delicious and feels somewhat healthy) then you can always get yourself a treat from one of the many local Seattle restaurants boasting a diverse cuisine! You simply place your order on your app, let them know your location is in Seattle Children's Hospital, and they will drop it off at a designated location by the River entrance. Most local drivers understand how to deliver at Seattle Children's, and your nurses can also help you gather your meal for you if needed.
Local Finds. Seattle Children’s is centrally located close to many wonderful places like Magnusson Park, University Village, Lake Washington, University of Washington, and only a hop skip and a jump to waterfront dining, the eclectic Fremont neighborhood, and Greenlake.
Snacks for Caregivers. Each floor has a variety of snacks available upon request! In the past, I have gotten everything from string cheese, Ritz crackers, and graham crackers, or yogurt and pudding, to a full-on turkey sandwich and apple slices. Items will vary based on availability but it is such a nice treat when you are in the Emergency Department for hours on end.
Things to Bring. Bring your own refillable water bottle and they put ice and water in that for you! And it’s the good ice too: PNW natives know it as Taco Time ice but I’m sure it’s commonly referred to as Sonic ice, the "Good Ice", nugget ice, pebble ice, etc. I also bring a lunchbox/cooler + ice pack with me for my son's formula, other snacks I may purchase, and it is great in case we are admitted to a room without a fridge. You can always ask for bags of ice from your nurse to keep your items cool.
Family Resource Center. Here is a link where you can read more information about what to expect from the Family Resource Center. Here is a great PDF from SCH with activities that are in place with their current Covid-19 protocols and restrictions that are in place. The FRC on level 7 near the Frog elevators is open to Inpatient, Ambulatory and Clinic families. The FRC on level 3 near the River entrance is open to Inpatient families and can be accessed using their caregiver badge.
Ronald McDonald House. There are many options for your stay, which you can check out here! To learn more about Ronald McDonald House, whether you would like to stay there, sponsor a meal, or donate to the RMH, read more about that here!
Clinic Visits. The hospital has different sections, depending on your needs. We frequent the Ocean portion of the hospital for clinic visits, but it's also the surgery center and urgent care as well. Ocean 8 (or floor 8), is where you would go for most clinic visits (neurosurgery, neurology, pulmonary, etc), Ocean 7 is where the Cafeteria and Starbucks is located, and this is the place I park most often (the stalls are so tiny but it's covered), and Ocean 6 is where we visit radiology and the surgery center (or after a certain time of night, it becomes the Urgent Care). There is an entirely different section of the hospital for overnight stays and hospital admissions, as well as the Emergency Room.
While many of these tips are my own, I also sourced some from my Instagram followers who shared some of the tips that they've experienced with SCH! If you have any tips that you'd like to add, please comment below. Seattle Children's has a robust and easy-to-navigate website where you can access more resources, directions, and more. Check that out here!
*If you are a parent of a child who attends SCH for Spina Bifida treatments, please make sure to join our private Facebook group Seattle Children's Spina Bifida Network for Parents*