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Planning Your Visit

Whether you're coming from far away or nearby, planning your visit to the hospital will help ensure a smooth trip.

If you or your child are visiting one of our outpatient clinics for a non-urgent issue but are feeling sick, please call the clinic directly and rebook your appointment for when you are well. If your child has an urgent health concern, such as difficulty breathing or chest pain, never delay seeking care. 

Travel assistance

These programs offer transportation support for families travelling from out-of-town to medical appointments and hospital stays:

  • Health Connections - Each health authority has a unique travel assistance program for residents of their region who need to travel within the province for out of town for medical care.

  • Hope Air - A national charity that provides free air travel, hotel accommodation, ground transportation and meal vouchers for families and individuals in financial need, travelling to Hospital.  Applications for support can be made online or via telephone at 1-877-346-4673.

  •  TAP - Travel Assistance Program - Helps alleviate some of the transportation costs for eligible BC residents who must travel within the province for out-of-town for medical care.  Ask your family doctor or your medical team for a form.

BC Family Residence Program

Families from outside Metro Vancouver with a child who requires care at BC Children's Hospital may be eligible for travel and accommodation assistance during their child’s medical stay. Lear more, about the BC Family Residence Program

What to bring

For all appointments, procedures or hospitalization, bring your child’s BC Services Card (formerly known as CareCard) and yours. 

If your child requires hospitalization or is required to stay at BC Children’s it would greatly assist his/her care if you bring any specialized equipment, medication and summary of past illness with you.

To help us care for your child and prevent disruption to your child’s routine, please bring any of the following:

  • medical equipment used by your child
  • current, labelled medications
  • specialized formula your child is taking
  • any tubes or devices needed to care for your child
  • summary of illness if available

Requirements & resources by appointment type

What to bring

  • Appointment information (i.e. doctor’s name, department name and location)
  • Name, address and telephone number of your referring doctor
  • Name, address and telephone number of your family doctor (if different from above)
  • BC Services Card
  • Immunization records
  • List of medications your child takes
  • Medical or personal records, such as x-rays or lab tests. If you are unsure about what to bring, please call the clinic office.
  • Another adult to assist you, especially if you need to bring other children
  • Books, games, snacks, diapers, a change of baby clothes or other necessities to keep your child occupied while waiting

Please do not bring food if your child is fasting for a test.

Preparing your child for a hospital visit

Bring a familiar object such as a toy, blanket or pacifier to help comfort your baby. Come prepared with a bottle or food (unless your child is fasting).
Younger children do better with a shorter preparation time. Find out as much as you can about the procedure. If you know what to expect, you will be able to better help your child. Use short words and phrases to tell your child about the visit.
Answer questions that your preschooler has truthfully, using words that your child can understand. Tell your child the doctor’s name and encourage them to ask questions.
School-age children
 Give your child honest and accurate information in advance of the appointment. Emphasize that an outpatient appointment is not the same as staying overnight in the hospital. Encourage your child to ask questions during the appointment.

If you would like advice on preparing your child for a hospital visit, please contact the Child Life Department.
The Family Resource Library contains several resources to help you prepare your child for a visit to the hospital.


The Medical Day Unit provides a safe, effective and family-centered environment for children and youth requiring medical treatments, diagnostic tests, procedures, assessments, education, and consultations. 

What to bring

  • BC Services Card
  • Immunization records
  • List of any medications, and the amounts, that your child is taking
  • Notepaper and pen
  • Regular medications that your child needs to take during their stay
  • Parents of infants or children with formula requirements need to bring their own supply
  • Some children prefer their own pillows and blankets and a favourite cuddly toy

Parents must stay with their child in the Medical Day Unit. There is a selection of videos, some games and toys, but if your stay is going to last several hours we recommend bringing in your own favourite games, books or hobbies to help pass the time. Keep in mind the reason you are coming to Medical Day Unit (e.g. intravenous procedures, sedation, etc.) in making your choice of things to bring. For example, if your child needs to be calm and still during the procedure, bring calming books to read to them.
Snack foods such as juice, yogurts, popsicles, toast, cereals, and some canned products are available, as well as a kettle, toaster and microwave. If you are staying over a meal time or prefer your own snacks, please plan to bring or buy your own food.
A portable phone is available for your use, as cellular phones must be turned off while in the hospital.

For more information, please go to the Medical Day Unit

Your doctor will request a hospital bed for your child. In the case of an emergency, beds are mostly available within an hour or two. Other types of admission depend on their urgency and the availability of the services your child needs in the hospital.


A child cannot be treated in hospital unless a parent or legal guardian signs the admission forms. The staff needs medical and other information about your child at the time he or she is admitted. It is important that the person with the child knows his or her background.

What to bring

  • BC Services Card
  • Immunization records
  • List of any medications, and the amounts, that your child is taking 
  • Braces, corrective shoes, crutches, glasses, hearing aid or other such appliances
Nice to have
  •  Loose fitting comfortable clothes for everyday wear (as soon as they are able, children are up and dressed)
  • Pajamas, bathrobe, and slippers (the hospital can provide these if you prefer)
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Comb and brush
  • A few favourite games, toys, books, hobby materials (play materials are available)
  • School books, current school work and the name of your child’s school and teacher (teachers in the hospital will help your child keep up with schoolwork)
  • Any toys or articles that are important to your child
Please label all of your own and your child’s items clearly. Do NOT bring to the hospital:
  • Valuables of any kind such as jewellery or large sums of money
  • Electrical appliances of any kind such as hairdryers, iPods, cell phones, radios or TV sets

Preparing your child for hospitalization


Your child's greatest concern at this age is being away from you. Staying with your child as much as possible during the hospital stay will make your child feel more secure. Younger children, especially those under age three, often think that going to the hospital is a punishment for misbehaviour. Emphasize that this is not the case. 

Encourage your child to express fears and concerns. Explain, in a way that the child can understand, why the hospital stay is necessary.

Children in this age group fear damage to their bodies. Be careful when explaining what will take place. Avoid phrases that may have different meanings to a child. For example, your child may associate being put to sleep (when you explain surgical anesthesia) with a pet and think that he or she will die. Instead, say, “The doctors will help you take a nap for a few hours,” or another appropriate phrase. When talking about surgery say, “make an opening,” instead of “cut.”
School-age children
Children older than six will worry about losing control as well as damage to their bodies. Your child may also worry about doing or saying embarrassing things while under anesthetic. 

Be open. Don't deny that there will be pain after an operation, if this is the case. Explain that although it will hurt for a while, he or she will be made to feel as comfortable as possible.

Teenagers are often reluctant to ask questions, leading you to believe they understand more than they actually do. Encourage your teenager to ask the doctors and nurses questions about his or her condition. Include your child in discussions about their care plan, to increase their sense of control.


Except in a few special areas, one parent may stay overnight with a child. We can usually provide a chair-bed. You should bring your own pillow and blanket from home (please label your belongings clearly). 

Finding your way around

See our pamphlet called Where Can I Find? if you need help finding your way around.

Get Oriented

Youth might want to watch Get Oriented, a video created by youth for youth about preparing for a stay at BC Children's Hospital. 
Where to stay
These accommodation options are for medical patients and their immediate families only (i.e. not for tourists or business 
travellers). The rates are often lower because of charity support. Space is limited so book as early as possible. 

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