How to support wife whose husband is in hospital
July 22, 2013 11:28 AM   Subscribe

My cousin's husband was just admitted into Sloan Kettering (NYC) with stage 3 cancer. They live about 90 minutes outside of NYC. She is exclusively breastfeeding their infant, who is not allowed to be on the husband's floor. They also have a 2 year old and a 4 year old. What resources are available for her? The primary concern is close to Sloan childcare for the infant so that she can visit. (The older two could be watched near their home.) Any recommended hotels? We do know about What can we be doing to support her?
posted by anon4now to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Many hospitals have a specific breastfeeding room. Call and ask. Many also have daycare on site for employees. I would start with calling the hospital.
posted by raisingsand at 11:32 AM on July 22, 2013

There is a service called, I think, pinch sitters NY that will dispatch a sitter to your home (or hotel).
posted by Ollie at 11:36 AM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Call the hospital, they'll have a list of resources available to your cousin.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:41 AM on July 22, 2013

Call the hospital. They will have a list of short-term or long-term apartments or residence-style inns in the area.
posted by barnone at 11:45 AM on July 22, 2013

I know people in Boston who live near the big hospitals and volunteer their spare rooms to family members of people undergoing treatment. I bet there's a similar program at Sloan Kettering, though I don't know whether there's likely to be space or whether your cousin would qualify. So I guess I'm a third vote for "call the hospital."
posted by mskyle at 11:49 AM on July 22, 2013

Here is the hospital's page with information on hotels and other accomodations. "Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center has negotiated special rates and amenities for patients, families, and caregivers at select hotels in Manhattan."

This page has phone numbers for various departments. You might start with the Patient Representatives Department at 212-639-7202.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 11:49 AM on July 22, 2013

I stayed at Helmsley Medical Tower, while a family member was at Sloan. It was only a couple of blocks away, and is not just for families of patients of NY Presbyterian.
posted by inertia at 11:52 AM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Is the "no children" rule for a medical reason based on his specific kind of cancer (kids sometimes get vaccinated with live vaccines and can't be near immunocompromised people, etc.) or is it just a general "no kids under 13" rule that lots of acute care units have?

If it's the former, there's not much that can be done about that. If it's the latter... I've seen people with cancer receive visits from their dogs while they were inpatients at a hospital, and I'm sure it's possible for your friend's wife to bring her infant with her to visit. The toddlers might be too much of a handful, especially if he's not in a private room, but a breastfeeding infant worn in a wrap? There's got to be patient representative or patient ombudsman she can talk to who can make that happen.
posted by jesourie at 11:59 AM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: jesourie; it's the former.
posted by anon4now at 12:03 PM on July 22, 2013

By the way--I haven't spent a ton of time in Sloan Kettering, but I've definitely spent too much time there. If you're not familiar with them, they are pretty great, and are really accommodating to family members. They will definitely be able to point you in the direction of some places to stay and childcare options.

I do remember seeing some patients come down into the lobby to visit with small children, so that might be an option, at least for her husband to be able to see the baby.
posted by inertia at 12:13 PM on July 22, 2013

There's Hope Lodge in Midtown but I am not sure if it is open to non-treatment-receiving immediate family members without the actual patient.
posted by elizardbits at 12:18 PM on July 22, 2013

I have been in about as close a situation to this as you're likely to find (my wife, who was breastfeeding our daughter, had and then died from cancer last winter).

If you're close enough, offer to babysit.

If you're not close enough, arrange childcare if possible. It's nice for someone to just call and say "so and so will be there at 4:00 to pick up the kids" rather than having to spending a lot of time on the phone trying to arrange things yourself, because you have plenty of other things to worry about.

If this is impractical, offer to pay for childcare. This at least frees your friend from worrying about how to pay for childcare, or spending an extra hour driving back and forth across town to go to a more affordable child care location.

If you want to arrange meals, just have takeout delivered to wherever your friend is staying. I had plenty of well-meaning people deliver homemade meals that "just need to be popped in the oven!" which essentially means I need to cook it, which defeats the purpose. When I had time to myself and wasn't taking care of an infant or doing something for my wife, I'd pick eating chips or stopping for a burger over "just preheating this lasagna and baking it for an hour" every time.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 12:21 PM on July 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

Following up on tylerkaraszewski's great advice... think about setting up (with her permission/input, of course) a schedule online for people to bring food, take on babysitting, etc. Your cousin will likely receive lots of offers for help from family/friends/neighbors, which itself can become overwhelming pretty quickly. If you can help with something like that for her (e.g., Lotsa Helping Hands, but there are other services out there), or even find someone else who's willing to do it, that will be a huge organizational load off her shoulders.
posted by scody at 12:34 PM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

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