During the last weekend in February, I had to bring my foster son to the emergency room. (He’s OK now, and he was probably OK then, but it was a better-safe-than-sorry situation.) My husband was out of town for the weekend at a cabin in the woods with a bunch of his best friends—it was his (and his twin brother’s) 50th birthday, and I was not about to interrupt it with a phone call to come home. So I called for reinforcements (a friend who let me drop my other kids at her house) and headed to Children’s Hospital.
In all of the hullabaloo, I was not thinking clearly, and I neglected to bring three key items that are crucial for any foster parent who is bringing her foster child to the hospital.
Don’t make the same mistakes I did! Here are my three tips to remember if you have to bring a foster child to the E.R.
BRING YOUR PLACEMENT AGREEMENT
You guys. I showed up at the E.R. with my foster son and no paperwork proving I had the right to consent to his medical treatment. What a rookie mistake!! If you have to bring a foster child to the hospital, for goodness sake, bring your placement agreement.
Fortunately—pro tip—I had scanned the agreement and saved it to my Google Drive, so I was ultimately able to produce proof that I was, in fact, authorized to consent to his treatment. But it took nearly two hours for me to access my Google Drive because my phone battery was dead when we got to the hospital.
Which brings me to point number two…
BRING A PHONE CHARGER.
For the love of all that is holy, keep a charger in your purse. My word.
I spent six hours in the emergency room that day, and most of that time, my phone sat on the communal charger at the nurses’ station on the other end of the floor from the room we were parked in. I needed to be in touch with the friends who were watching our other kids (did I mention my husband is out of town?!) and my teenager, who was out for the day and had no idea what was going on. I also kept receiving voicemail from my foster son’s previous foster parent, who had received a call from the hospital when I brought him in, because she was listed as his caregiver. Since I could not produce proof that I was his foster parent, they called her (naturally). She was worried, and we kept playing phone tag because my phone was off/charging when she called and then I missed her when I called back.
So I sat there watching mindlessly numbing cartoons with my child while my phone charged so I could turn it on, check in with everyone, and then turn it back off to charge some more.
Which brings me to point number three…
BRING SOMETHING TO DO.
I had nothing in my bag for my son or for me to do. No magazines, no books, no nothing.
There was a television in the room, which had a few cartoons to choose from, so my son was happy for a while. But when the remote control was not working properly, and he could not find his way back to the show he had wanted to watch, he grew frustrated. Then he grew bored and started acting out.
I really wished I had brought some crayons, paper, books, etc. for him—not to mention something for me to read! Without my phone, it was just me and my child in a tiny exam room waiting for an indeterminate amount of time. (We were there for a psychiatric evaluation, not a physical injury, so once he was calm, we were not considered high priority. Also, because our visit was a result of an incident that had taken place earlier at home, neither of us was in a great place emotionally. We were both on edge, which made sitting in a small room together all day hard.)
If you are a foster parent, you will likely experience an unexpected trip to the E.R. or urgent care at some point in your journey. Whether it’s a sprained ankle from falling on the playground, a bump on the head while a toddler learns to walk, an episode of violent rage, or suicidal ideations, it’s always important to be on the safe side and have a doctor weigh in. When that time comes, remember this list and don’t be caught off guard and unprepared! Remember to grab the placement agreement, your phone charger, and a good book or two.
You’ll thank me later!
Photo via Canva