Key Takeaways

    • Organizing a hospital care tour can be helpful for understanding and processing what happened, especially for the survivor. 
    • It can be a healing moment for everyone, including the care team.
    • Make sure you’re far enough along in your recovery; it may trigger strong emotions.
    • Contact the hospital’s public relations department to ask what’s possible.
    • If not a care tour, perhaps you can send a card, letter, or personal video message to express your gratitude for their care.
How and when do I arrange a “Hospital Care Tour”?

Survivors and co-survivors alike often have many questions about their in-hospital medical journey as they recover. Organizing a “hospital care tour,” in which you revisit your journey through the hospital, can help you better understand and process what happened. It is also quite meaningful for the care team to see the results of their efforts. It can serve as a thank you reunion as well.

What happened? They don’t remember

Since survivors may have no memory of their cardiac arrest or aspects of their life-saving hospital care, a hospital care tour can help pull together the pieces in an experiential way. A hospital care tour means literally walking your journey sequentially from the time the survivor got into an ambulance to the emergency department, the ICU, various procedure rooms, step-down units, and inpatient floors. This may be the moment when survivors can begin to acknowledge and understand what you as the co-survivor experienced during this traumatic, life-altering event.

You could see this as hitting the reset button or replacing challenging memories with more celebratory ones. What’s more, you will have a chance to thank the care team who helped save your loved one.

Make sure you’re ready–it could trigger emotions

While this can be a healing moment for all, it’s important that you and your loved one are far enough along in your recovery journey to manage strong emotions. There is no time limit for making this happen.

For example, one couple’s care tour occurred six months into the recovery, which proved to be ideal for them. They were ready and could benefit most from the experience. In another case, even six years after the event, a young survivor did not feel ready, while their parents (the co-survivors) were willing to take this step. It is completely normal for the survivor and co-survivor to have different mindsets. Keep in mind there is no time limit, and with ongoing communication between the survivor and co-survivor, you will arrive at a shared understanding with time. Ideally, both parties will be ready.

How do you make it happen?

Keep in mind that not all hospitals may be set up for this. If you still have a connection with a nurse, perhaps start there. Otherwise, try contacting the hospital’s public relations department. Introduce yourself and share your story. They can tell you if a pre-planned care tour is possible. Many hospitals understand how this can be helpful to survivors, co-survivors, and the care team. If the hospital is not set up for a full tour, maybe someone can take you around informally. Either option will require planning.

If a tour is not possible, there are other ways you can show your gratitude. Perhaps you can share a personal video message, write a card or letter, deliver cookies, or arrange to speak at an organized hospital event. The action of sharing your gratitude for their care means a great deal to the staff and helps you and your survivor as well. Be sure and ask if you can take photos!

Thank You to Our Contributors

Jennifer Chap & Debbie Medina

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