Having a child experience illness is always a stressful time for a parent. Leaving the comfort and familiarity of home to find answers, only compounds that stress. Kidding Around Contributor, Melanie Coblentz is bringing her family’s experience to you in this guide so you’ll have the information in case you ever need it.
When we decided to seek treatment at the Medical University of Charleston Children’s hospital for our son, it was stressful. I searched online for “what to expect when taking your child to MUSC” and found nothing. Before our first visit, all I knew was that our favorite pediatrician had graduated from there, and she was very optimistic we’d get the answers we weren’t getting locally.
The Drive to MUSC
Depending on the time of day, the three-hour drive can take twice as long. We’ve actually missed appointments that we should have been hours early for while sitting in traffic on I-26. Driving down recently at night, we made record time and there were no issues. I’ve begun bundling our son’s specialist appointments on the same day, early in the day. This way, we stay at the Ronald Mcdonald House (more on that in a minute) to get a good night’s sleep. This is essential for processing what the doctors tell us. I’ve found a round trip and day of appointments all in one day is too much for us to handle.
An Office Visit at MUSC
There are several different places where doctors see patients.
The most convenient for patients traveling from the Upstate is the new Summey Medical Pavillion in North Charleston. Most of the pediatric specialties are set up in this new facility. There are surgery suites, a lab, procedure rooms, and the best part is tons of FREE parking. When you arrive, you walk up to one of the kiosks in the lobby and check-in. A slip will print out and tell you exactly where to go. This new pavilion makes it a lot easier, especially if several specialists see you. They are all in the same area, instead of on different hospital floors or a different building.
Previous to the new facility, most of our appointments were in Rutledge Tower adjacent to the hospital. Park in the parking garage next to the office, go to floor 2, and take the first left through the double doors down the corridor. This will keep you from having to walk through a busy driveway with your child.
The Hospital Visit at MUSC
As of February 22nd, 2020, pediatric patients will have a brand new state of the art facility on the MUSC campus. The Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital will provide 200 beds for not only pediatric patients, but expecting moms too.
If I could only offer one piece of advice, it would be this: don’t bring tons of stuff to entertain your child while admitted. Trust me; this is where you can learn from my mistakes. I was so nervous about our stay; I packed nearly his whole room to make him feel at ease. I didn’t consider that the folks at MUSC Children’s do this all day, every day. There is a beautiful atrium where children can enjoy fun activities with doctor’s approval. You’ll find crafts, toys, books, an air hockey table, video games – anything a kid could want! On our most recent visit, our son brought only a small backpack. Although the hospital doesn’t provide meals for the parents, there are volunteers serving dinner for the patient’s immediate family most nights. Patients are allowed to order whatever they’d like from a three-page menu; be sure to place your child’s order an hour in advance, especially during peak hours.
While researching this article, I discovered a “what to expect” link on the website which I’ve found to be quite useful.
Ronald McDonald House
Most people think of the Ronald McDonald House as a place for families to stay when a child is admitted to the hospital away from home. It is, but it is also for families seeking medical treatment. As I mentioned before, I’ve started bundling our son’s appointments on the same day and staying Ronald McDonald House night in advance. This 32 room building is located next to the MUSC campus. Just 2 blocks from Rutledge tower!
They encourage you to move your car to the parking garage and take the complimentary shuttle back after you’ve checked in. There are parking meters on the streets surrounding the house, and during the day they are a 2-hour limit.
Once you check-in, you’ll get keys to your room. All the beds are twin size, with some rooms having trundle style beds. You’ll be responsible for washing and drying all your linens before check out, in the house’s laundry room. While a guest at the house, they offer breakfast, a salad bar lunch and dinner served by awesome volunteers.
There is a beautiful playground park next to the house and a playroom to entertain children.
I almost forgot!
Ronald McDonald has a permanent resident dog named Gardy. The miniature labradoodle was donated to the house by New York Yankee’s player Brett Gardner. He will steal your heart the minute you walk in the door!
The only downside to Ronald McDonald House is that they can’t guarantee reservations in advance. You will have to wait until the morning of your check-in date for a phone call letting you know they have room. With the popularity of people commuting from the rest of the state to MUSC for health care, our stays have been unfulfilled for the most part. It’s good to have a back-up selected on Priceline or through a hotel vendor if you get that call and can’t stay at the Ronald McDonald House.
Since this journey began, we have stayed at several Charleston Hotels, but our favorite so far has been the Hotel Indigo Mount Pleasant.
If you need accommodations or transportation, the hospital has a guest services department that can help you with any number of things. They work with local hotels to get patient families discounted rates and flexible checkout times and dates. They helped us find a discounted hotel the first time we were unable to stay at Ronald McDonald House, and I was unprepared.
MUSC Guest Services – 843.876.8456
It is my sincere hope that no one ever has the need for this information.
If your family decides to make the drive to Charleston to seek treatment for your child, I hope this information will help you feel at ease and better prepared.
Medical University of South Carolina Kids
171 Ashley Avenue, Charleston SC 29425 | 843.792.2300
Charleston Ronald McDonald House
81 Gadsden Street, Charleston SC 29401 | 843.723.7957