When my baby was hospitalized…

Going through old correspondence, I found a letter I wrote to UCLA Hospital (L.A.) in 1973. My son was 18 months old and had been very ill and a patient there. I was distressed at what I saw and experienced in the children’s ward. Parents were only allowed to be there during ‘visiting hours’. (Many of us disregarded this unless told to leave.)

When I was there, I changed my child’s diapers and soiled sheets, fed him when possible and if he awoke crying, hearing my voice, he’d wrap his little fingers around mine and fall asleep again. I recall laying on the floor for one or two nights to be there for him. (One night I counted eleven parents sleeping on the chairs in the waiting room — there were no sofas.)

I walked to the nurses station
He had to go to the bathroom

The boy next door was about six and attached to an IV. He called again and again for a nurse until I went over to ask what he needed. He had to go to the bathroom. I walked to the nurses station and forwarded his request, then got busy again with my own child.

When I heard anguished crying, I went to ask what happened. He had been unable to hold it any longer and had soiled himself in bed. He was embarrassed and traumatized. At his age I can only imagine how he felt.

With parents purposely kept away, other children were neglected. One little girl across the way cried from morning til night each day. No one attempted to comfort her. She spoke only Spanish. My letter, therefore, mainly requested they rescind their policy of not allowing parents to remain with their sick children.

I made copies of the letter and mailed it to six people in charge. I never had a reply. The letter, however, did create a reaction. My pediatrician was told that my child and I were BANNED from UCLA, which was very close to our home. After that I was required to drive across town each time my little boy was seriously ill — and he was.

My pediatrician was told I was BANNED

I am pleased that since then things have changed and now parents CAN be with their hospitalized children. Did I play a role in this change? I’d like to think so, but probably not.

What’s been your experience with your own children’s hospitalizations?


24 thoughts on “When my baby was hospitalized…

  1. This is horrifying! I certainly hope that things have changed since then. It sounds so heartless. This is the second bad hospital account that I am reading today – the other from the UK in current times. I hope that over the years your son’s experience was better.

  2. OMG that is horrific! Thank you for reminding us that although the world is quite often a shit show, progress has been made in a lot of areas

    • How right you are Vinson: And, we all need to continue fighting to change things in order to make them better. Stay well you fabulous person. I hear you’re doing really great things! I’m so proud of you too.,

  3. I never had children, but as a pet “mother”, I have had varying experiences with my animals. The ER in Vancouver was really good about letting me stay with Kodi — all night. One vet where Gryphon (one of my horses) had to be had been warned, by me, that if I was out of Gryphon’s sight, he would scream at the top of this lungs non-stop. They assured me he would settle down and told me I wasn’t allowed in the back where he was. A few hours later, they called and asked me to come down and sit with Gryphon, who wouldn’t stop screaming. He quieted down as soon as I was with him.

    I do remember how scary things were with Rafi at times when he was little. But, as you said, he grew up to be a wonderful man, of whom you have every reason to be proud!

  4. Glad you wrote that letter – I’m sure it brought about the change, though you got banned. Actually I cannot imagine you NOT writing that letter! ❤

    • Yup Jaya: I guess you’re right about my HAVING to write that letter. My brain is wired that way. My hope is that others like me wrote letters as well and then improvements happened. Stay well…

    • I have no idea if it was illegal or not — they didn’t do it in writing. They advised our pediatrician about it. Sneaky, huh? We lived in Westwood, where UCLA is located and it certainly was inconvenient for me with a child who was often very ill to have to drive him across town.

  5. Aw.. that’s really scary. I remember something similar when I was hospitalized and they wouldn’t let me see my mom. I suppose hospitals have their reasons but it seems so wrong to prevent children or parents from seeing each other. It’s amazing that you wrote a letter regarding that; very few often speak out. I’m happy to hear things have changed!

  6. Why am I not surprised that you got us banned from UCLA med center. If anyone could do it, it’d be you. Don’t ever shut up if you feel something needs to be addressed. That lesson you taught me has gotten me into trouble a bunch over the years – never banned…almost evicted once…

    • Dear, dear Rafi: Yup, I got you banned before you could even speak up yourself. However, I’m aware that you’ve often stepped up when someone should have. I’m so very proud of you for that, although I recall worrying about you at times when you did. You are brave and good and I love you so very, very much. Mom

  7. That is how changes happen and am so proud of what you did 👏

    Am also disappointed with the the reaction of UCLA. But I do know the whole of health Eco system in the US has huge problems. Let us hope and pray for the best.

    Stay safe. Stay healthy 😊🤗

  8. You’ve struck a chord with me here, and brought back some sad, but true, memories. Back in 1967, my little three year old niece was in the pediatric ward at VGH, with what proved to be terminal leukemia. My sister and brother in law, her loving parents, had to take turns sleeping on the floor beside her bed, as there was nowhere else for them to rest. I’m sure that things have changed so much for the better now, partly due to people like you, who fought (and still fight!) for much-needed changes.

    • I am so sorry for your sister and brother-in-law’s loss Val: Now I believe cots are often available for a loved one to sleep on. Although, I doubt I would have slept anyway, but at least may have been a little more comfortable physically then. Stay well. Fond regards.

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