Medical Care

Seeing Healthcare Providers

Before you go to the doctor (or other health care provider)

  • Confirm your appointment time.
  • Make transport arrangements.
  • Don’t arrive stressed – give yourself time to get there and to get inside the building.
  • If possible, bring someone with you – for moral support and to help remember and understand what the provider says.
  • If English is the main language spoken at your doctor’s office and you speak another language, ask for an interpreter before you go to the appointment.
  • Think about what you want from the visit.

When you are at the office

Ask questions. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • “Can you repeat that?”
  • “Let me repeat what you just said so that I know I understand.”
  • “Can you write that down for me?”
  • “I need to write that down.”
  • “Will the clinic follow up with me or should I contact the clinic directly?”
  • “How will I get my child’s test results?”
  • “If I have questions after I leave today, what number can I call?”

Helpful Resources and Websites

Going to the Hospital

Before you go to the hospital

If this is a planned admission, talk to the healthcare staff before you go. Be sure you understand everything that is going to happen while your child is in the hospital. Use a hospital, clinic, surgery center, or another type of health-care organization that meets the Joint Commission’s quality standards. Check before you go, visit the UF Health Patient Guide.

Medical Interpreter and Translation Services

We provide interpretation services each year to thousands of patients and their families with limited English proficiency to ensure patient safety and compassionate care.

Spanish medical interpreters are available from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday, to assist patients and families during their hospital stay. Interpreters are also available for some outpatient clinic and procedural appointments. We provide this service without cost to patients or their families. We also offer 24-7 phone translation services when our interpreters are unavailable. Call the Office of Patient Experience, (352) 265-0123.

While you or your child is in the hospital

You can find useful information in the UF Health Shands Hospital Patient Guide.

  • Keep a list of doctors your child sees and the medications they prescribe. Ask anyone who takes care of your child to write down their names or give you a business card.
  • Ask anyone who comes into your child’s room why they are there.
  • Ask about any procedures or therapies your child will need while in the hospital. Keep track of your child’s results if tests are ordered. If you want to be with your child during a procedure, ask someone if you can be present.
  • Ask about any medications your child gets while in the hospital, including medications your child receives through their IV fluids. If you don’t understand why your child is getting a certain medication, ask to confirm the reason it was ordered and who ordered it. Have the person write down information about the drug if you like.
  • If your child has any allergies, especially drug allergies, tell every healthcare provider who comes into contact with your child, including doctors, nurses, lab technicians, and therapists. It may be annoying to repeat yourself time after time, but providers are human. It is better to be safe than sorry.
  • Talk to the nutrition staff about your child’s food needs and routines.
  • Know your child’s rights and your rights.

Speak Up!

During your child’s stay, the doctors, nurses, and staff of UF Health Shands Hospital will treat you and your family as partners in your child’s care. One important way that you can be involved is to speak up. Ask questions, voice your concerns, and don’t be afraid to raise any issues relating not only to your child’s care and treatment but also to any hospital services. It’s your child, and you have a right to know.

Participate in Your Child’s Care

As a parent, you are the center of your child’s healthcare team. If your child is at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital and you are not satisfied or have a continuing problem, please contact a Patient Representative at (352) 265-0123 with your compliments, complaints, or concerns. You may call at any time during or after your stay.

Condition “H” – H stands for Help

To activate Condition H, call “61” from your bedside phone. It will not work from your cell phone. The hospital operator will ask for your name, your child’s name and room number, and what the problem is.

When to call:

  • If there is a noticeable change in the patient’s condition that needs immediate attention and the health-care team is NOT recognizing or addressing the concern.
  • If after speaking with a member of the health-care team (i.e. nurses, physicians), you continue to have serious concerns on how care is being given, managed, or planned.

Your Needs as a Caregiver

Take care of yourself while your child is in the hospital. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Get proper rest and nutrition. You will need your strength when your loved one comes home.
  • Take a breather occasionally. Go outside and take a short walk to relieve stress.
  • Use the UF Health Shands Hospital chapel, the Sanctuaries of Silence and Peace in the UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital, and the Garden of Hope for relaxation, reflection, and respite.
  • Bring reading materials, crossword puzzles, or needlework to occupy your time.
  • Write down your questions for the doctors and staff.
  • Choose a contact person in your home or community who can provide updates for others. This will allow you to focus all your attention on your child instead of answering everyone’s questions.
  • Use the Social Workers and Chaplains for support and assistance.
  • Always be aware of security and safety issues. Report any unusual activity to staff or security personnel.
  • Be supportive and tolerant of others who are experiencing stress.
  • Be careful when driving.

Patient- and Family-Centered Rounds

Rounds are when the medical staff comes to the hospital room to see the patient and assess their status. Traditionally, this has not included communication with the patient or the patient’s family members. Inpatient- and family-centered rounds, several things happen. These include:

  • Discuss and develop the care plan with the patient and their family.
  • Discuss and develop the care plan with the nurse and other healthcare workers.
  • Discuss and plan for discharge; since everyone is involved in the same discussion, fewer follow-up pages are needed.
  • Open communication improves relationships between physicians, patients, and their families.
  • Every member of the team and family hears a consistent message.
  • Patients and families play a role in teaching students, interns, and residents.

Going home from the hospital

When it’s time for your child to be released from the hospital, your physician will authorize a hospital discharge. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your child is completely well — it only means that your child no longer needs hospital services. If you disagree, you can appeal the decision.

The first step is to know who will be involved in your child’s discharge process. This starts with the hospital’s discharge planner, who may be a nurse, social worker, or may have some other title. You and your child should meet this person relatively early in your child’s hospital stay; if not, find out who this person is and be sure to meet with them well before the expected discharge date.

For more information about being discharged, visit the UF Health website.

Five things you need before your child leaves the hospital:

  1. Discharge instructions – the physician may come in to confirm discharge, but that actually leaving may take longer than that.
  2. Medication list – has anything been changed, added, or stopped?
  3. New Prescriptions – plan a trip to the pharmacy.
  4. Follow-up care instructions: dietary restrictions, activity level, follow up, home-care instructions, telephone numbers to call.
  5. Outpatient care and services & community resources.

When you get home:

  1. Review any notes or instructions you were given.
  2. Fill any new prescriptions for your child.
  3. Update your calendar with any follow-up appointments.
  4. Call for any test results.

Ronald McDonald House Charities of North Central Florida

Ronald McDonald House assists families with seriously ill children being treated at area medical facilities through our two programs, the Ronald McDonald House located in Gainesville, Florida and the Ronald McDonald Family Room located at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital.

Going to the Pharmacy

  • Call ahead or check online to see if your prescription is ready.
  • Write down any questions you have for the pharmacist.
  • Tell the pharmacist about any drug allergies or reactions your child has.
  • Ask, “Is there anything I need to know about this medication?”
  • Try to use the same pharmacy all the time. The pharmacist will get to know your child and be able to easily check for any cross-reactions between medications. The pharmacist needs to know any allergies your child has.

Mental Health Care

(352) 264-6789

Alachua County Crisis Counseling

The Center offers short-term counseling services for individuals in crisis. These services are staffed by graduate level practicum and intern students, adjunct counselors, and the clinical staff of the center. Appointments and walk-in counseling services are available Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.