It is natural for a child to be fearful and anxious when faced with the prospect of being warded in hospital. It is a new environment where there are bright lights, needles, bandages and strangers examining and treating them. And all this is happening when they are already feeling unwell or in pain.

Parents often feel helpless as their child goes through the fear and panic of being admitted to hospital.

Recognising the problem, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) recently launched a fun and colourful children’s book to help children deal with such fear and anxiety. The book What Happens To Me At The Hospital? was written by Associate Professor Anette Sundfor Jacobsen, Senior Consultant at the Children's Surgery Centre, KKH, a member of the SingHealth group, with drawings by award-winning illustrator Patrick Yee.

What to expect if you are warded in a hospital?

“A hospital stay can be a bewildering experience for children. Understandably, parents are often concerned about how best to prepare their kids for such a stay. With that in mind, this book has been produced to provide an overview of the hospital experience for parents and their children,” Assoc Prof Jacobsen explained in the preface of the book.

Merely asking a child not to be afraid might not be enough. One way to lessen his anxiety is to prepare him for what he will experience.

The book covers many situations commonly encountered by children who need surgery and have to stay in hospital for more than a day. The chapters include “Meeting the people who work at the hospital”, “Getting scanned and tested” and “Going in for an operation”. It also explains things such as a stethoscope, an x-ray and ultrasound scan. Best read before a visit to the hospital, it can also be used as an activity book.

“A stay at the hospital is usually not something to look forward to, but it should not be something to be feared either,” said Assoc Prof Jacobsen. “With the publication of this book, it is hoped that parents and their children have at their disposal a tool and resource to make the hospital stay a less forbidding experience.”

Does your child have a phobia of hospitals?

Some physical symptoms associated with such phobia include:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Feeling sick
  • Chest pains
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • “Jelly legs”
  • Feeling “unreal”
  • Intense sweating
  • Feeling faint
  • Dry throat
  • Restricted or “fuzzy” vision or hearing

What Happens To Me At The Hospital? is available at KKH’s Outpatient Pharmacy at a discounted price of $10.70. All proceeds from the sale of these books will go to the KKH Health Endowment Fund to help needy patients. The book is also available at SingHealth Academy (#06-07 Tower 3, 168 Jalan Bukit Merah) at the retail price of $14.90. Enquiries or orders for the book can be directed to, or call the SingHealth Academy Publications team at 6377-8649.

Ref: T12