10 tips for a successful hospital stay

Do hospitals make you nervous? Take the stress out of your overnight stay with these helpful tips from hospital insiders.

Tips for a successful hospital stay
You've got chills -- they're multiplying. It's 3 a.m. and you've been tossing and turning for hours. An extra blanket could put the shivers to rest, 
but where's the nurse? And the chorus of snores from the next bed is competing with the attention-seeking rumble from your hungry stomach. Aren't hospitals supposed to be places of rest and recovery? Fear and uncertainty can amp up your stress levels and ruin your stay, but don't let them run the show. Our hospital insiders give you the behind-the-scenes scoop on how you can feel more comfortable and in control.

1. Learn what your insurance covers
Canada's publicly funded health-care system pays for many -- but not all -- hospital costs. Know the perks and limitations of your workplace insurance before you arrive at the hospital, says Linda Benn, a registered nurse and patient education coordinator at Capital Health, a network of hospitals, clinics and services based in Halifax. Will your coverage pay for semiprivate accommodation, in-room TV and crutches? Review your policy to see who's responsible for which costs.

Plus, being insurance savvy can save you money. Chris Rokosh, a registered nurse in Calgary, and the president and chief nursing consultant of CanLNC (an organization that provides nursing experts for medical litigation cases), says that if you and your spouse have health insurance from two insurers, you should bring documents from both. "One provider [may] cover partial costs. The other, the remainder," she says.

2. Avoid hospital room rage
Worried about a noisy, snoring roommate? Before donning a hospital gown, ask about getting 
a semiprivate or private room. According to Benn, "The best way to get the room you want is to ask [during] your first contact with hospital personnel." This could be through a phone call, letter or in-person visit with admissions or a hospital booking officer to arrange your procedure date.

"They should look after it, or refer you to somebody who can," says Benn. Once admitted, if you find yourself in a ward, Kate Mahon, president of the Canadian Association of Critical Care Nurses in Whites Lake, N.S., says to talk to the nurse in charge of the unit, who can adjust your room assignment to make your room a less stressful, more restful place for you.

Page 1 of 3 -- Find out what you should pack for an overnight hospital stay on page 2

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