During Your Stay in the CCU

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What You Need to Know About Your Time at the Hospital

Once surgery is finished the surgeon will meet with you and your family in the Family Great Room on the 22nd floor to let you know how everything went. Your child will be brought directly from the operating room to their room in the CCU where we will help them get settled and prepare for the OR team and the ICU team to do a safe handoff. Once the nurses are ready they will have you come back to the child’s room.

Your child will have a lot of tubes and wires attached to them after surgery and they may still have a breathing tube in. This is normal and as the days go by we will start to remove most of these tubes and wires.

The first day or two after surgery your child may be sleepy and fussy. We will give them medications to help control their pain and keep them calm and relaxed. As you get closer to being able to go home your child will be much more active and acting more like themselves.

Each morning, we invite you to participate in morning rounds at your child's bed space - where the team (including the bedside nurse, physicians, advanced practice providers and/or fellows, registered dieticians, and clinical pharmacists) will discuss your child and their plan of care.

Typically, you will have a new nurse in the morning and evening. The nursing team will be assessing your child every 1 to 4 hours during their stay. 

Please feel welcome to listen and ask questions at the end of their report. We recognize that while we have medical and nursing expertise to offer, you are the expert on your child. 

Please make sure you are available for teaching and for discussions about your child's care. It is extremely important for you to be here as much as possible to help support your child during this time. If you cannot be physically present, we ask that you provide a contact number where we can reach you. 

What to Expect at the Bedside

  • If your child is intubated, the lights may need to be on at all times. You may want to bring an eye mask. 
  • Please expect some noise during your stay as there may be beeping from various medical devices. 


The Cardiac Care Unit uses the Care Partnership Pyramid, which offers guidance as to what types of care parents can provide during different phases of your stay. Our team will guide you and provide this support throughout the entirety of your time with us, and we encourage you to discuss this with your care team often.

Learn more about the Care Partnership Pyramid

The quicker your child gets up and moving, the quicker they will get out of the hospital. Make sure your child knows this prior to their surgery – usually this is good motivation to get up and moving as soon as possible. 

Your child may not feel like eating or drinking anything until their stomach “wakes up.” Your child’s nurse will let you know when you may begin to feed your child. The doctors will usually have your child start slowly, often with ice chips, then clear liquids, and then on to soft, bland food. Eating slowly will help prevent nausea and vomiting. Your child will be kept well hydrated and given nourishment through the IV while their stomach is “waking up”. Don’t worry if your child is not hungry; when the stomach has been asleep with anesthesia, it does not usually feel hungry. Sometimes the smell of another person’s food can make your child feel a little queasy. If that is the case for your child, it may be best to eat in the cafeteria or family great room. It may take them a couple weeks before they get back to their normal appetite.

Cafeteria Hours

Monday – Friday: 3 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Weekends and Holidays: 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Guest Trays

Guest trays are available for parents and family for a small fee ($5 for breakfast and $7 for lunch and dinner). You'll be provided with copies of the general menu. Their tray will be delivered by the hostess within 45 minutes after placing the order. A guest tray includes the choice of the following: 1 entree, 2 sides and 1 beverage. Please note that families following a kosher diet are able to get a parent tray free of charge courtesy of Chai Lifeline.

Coupons for Breastfeeding Moms

Breastfeeding mothers are able to get “Guest Trays” with their Breastfeeding Mom coupons. These individuals are also able to use the coupons to purchase any items up to $6 in the cafeteria. Breastfeeding moms should receive these coupons for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for each day of their stay. Extra coupons are available from Social Work as needed.

Hand Hygiene

Wash or gel your hands each time you enter your child’s room. Wash your hands after changing your child’s diaper. It is ok to remind your care team to wash their hands at any time. Have your child wash their hands before each meal and after using the washroom. Make sure visitors wash/gel their hands before entering your child’s room. 

Medication Safety

Every patient will have an ID band placed on their wrist or ankle on admission. The armband includes the child’s name, medical record number and a barcode. This barcode will be scanned every time medicines are given to your child. Each medicine will also be scanned to ensure that the right medicines and dosages are being given to your child at the correct time. The nurses will also give you information about each medicine they give your child (name of the medicine, its purpose and possible side effects). For safety, please make sure your child keeps their ID band on at all times while they are in the hospital.

Safe Sleep 

All children who are under two years old, either by birth age or developmentally, are placed in a crib, that fits the child’s size. Side rails should remain in the “up” position at all times unless lowering the side rails is needed for patient care. Parents should never try to sleep in the same bed as their child for safety reasons. If your child has IV’s in place, please talk to your nurse before getting your child out of bed on your own.

  • Infants who are 35 weeks gestation or older should be placed on their back to sleep. If the infant rolls over on their own during sleep, you do not need to turn the baby back over onto their back.
  • The sleep surface should be a firm mattress that fits snugly into the crib frame
  • The head of the bed should be flat.
  • There should be no loose blankets; sheets should be fitted or tightly tucked.
  • Everything should be removed from the crib including, sheepskin pads, pillows, developmental positioners and blanket rolls.
  • No supplies (i.e. diapers, diaper wipes, medications) should be in the crib
  • Toys, such as stuffed animals, may ONLY be in the crib while the infant is awake.

The intensive care team is specialized in both pediatric critical care medicine as well as cardiology and helps patients during the immediate after surgical period. Step down teams are specialized cardiologists that help patients after surgery who no longer need critical therapies transition to home.

Child life specialists provide support for patients and families throughout the hospital. A child life specialist is a trained professional who helps children and their families understand the hospital environment. They are skilled at providing:

  • Support that is appropriate for a child’s age and condition
  • Opportunities to use play and other activities to help decrease a child’s anxiety associated with being in the hospital

How Can Child Life Specialists Help My Child in the CCU?

  • Provide developmentally appropriate play opportunities to help your child grow and reach milestones
  • Provide preparation and support to encourage use of coping strategies and lessen anxiety related to their diagnosis, procedures, or hospitalization
  • Provide new diagnosis education or education about procedures, treatment, or tests
  • Provide support during hospital procedures by using comfort positioning, distraction and encourage use of positive coping skills
  • Utilize real and pretend medical equipment during medical play to encourage understanding and processing of medical procedures through play
  • Develop an individualized “Play and Comfort Plan” for your child, so that staff and volunteers know how to best care for and support your child
  • Coordinate the CCU Volunteer Program to encourage your child to socialize and play when your family cannot be present

How Can Child Life Specialists Help My Family?

  • Educate siblings about the CCU and why their brother or sister is in the hospital
  • Prepare siblings before visiting the CCU for the first time
  • Celebrate important milestones with your family

What Resources Does Child Life Provide?

  • The following resources are available to you (ask us if you would like more information on any of these):
    • “How to Help Siblings Cope”
    • “How to Help (Infants, toddlers, preschoolers, etc.) Cope with Pain”
    • Developmentally appropriate interaction and play for infants (Ex: Kangaroo Care/ Importance of Touch/ Overstimulation in Infants/ Games to Promote Infant development)
  • End of life and bereavement resources

How Can I Contact Child Life?

  • Ask your nurse to page child life
  • Contact child life at 312.227.3942
  • Ask for Anna Batz or Cecilia Gonzalez, CCU Certified Child Life Specialists

Learn more about child life specialists