Ask the Navigator: How long will I be in the hospital and what do I need to bring?

Dear Navigator,

I am scheduled for surgery but have not come to your consent class. I have heard a lot of information is covered in that class, but I have a couple of questions specific to the hospital stay.

Racheal Newmyer, RN

How long will I be in the hospital? And what should I bring with me?  

These are great questions and though each one is covered in the consent class, they are so frequently asked that I thought it would be a great topic for this “Dear Navigator” column.

How long will you be in the hospital?

You should expect to stay one or two nights in the hospital. A large majority of patients will go home the next day, but on occasion if a patient is not meeting goals, or the surgeon feels more time is needed, the patient will be instructed to stay an additional night. I always challenge my patients to work hard to get home.

What should you bring?

There are 6 things I recommend you bring with you for your stay at Erlanger.

  • A pair of pajama pants or shorts with an elastic band. Hospital gowns will be provided for patients while in the hospital, but if you have ever worn a hospital gown you know they are not very modest. You will be asked to do a lot of walking, starting the night of your surgery. To provide that modesty bring comfortable, loose fitting or elastic banded clothing.
  • An easy, slip on pair of shoes with good traction. A loosely laced tennis shoe or a slip on deck shoe is great to provide good support and prevention of falls while walking. Flip flops, though easy to slip on are not that great for traction and may put a patient at risk for a fall. If you don’t have a shoe that works, don’t worry! The hospital will give you a pair of socks that have tread on the bottom that can be worn when you are out walking in the hallways.
  • CPAP or BiPAP. If you are a sleep apnea patient and wear one of these at home for sleep, we will want you to bring it with you for your stay hospital stay. They can be used to assist in recovering patients after surgery, and for rest while on the unit.
  • Current home medication list. You may be instructed to hold a medication before surgery, or medications may be altered during your pre-operative diet phase to accommodate lower caloric intake. These changes will need to be relayed to pre-testing, but will also be verified in the pre-operative area by your nurse. Remember we are human, don’t depend on your memory, write it down and bring it with you.
  • Identification and wallet. Remember to bring a photo ID or driver’s license, insurance card, and cash or card to pay the co-pay for prescription medications. At Erlanger we have a great in hospital program provided by CVS Pharmacy, found in our medical mall, that will bring your new prescribed medications for discharge directly to your room. CVS will ask that you pay your co-pay in order for this service to be offered. They may also need your insurance information if it is not on file with their company.
  • Creature comforts and phone charger. No one likes to go without brushing their teeth, so make sure to bring the things you might need for a one night stay anywhere. Though Erlanger can provide things like a toothbrush if you forget, they may not be able to accommodate that favorite kind of Chap Stick or face wash. Don’t forget your phone charger, though there are phone tree stations around the hospital that have most phone charger connections on them, no one wants a dead phone when they are trying to connect with family.

A few other reminders:

  • No make-up, no face lotions. Don’t come looking like you’re going to host the morning news, au-natural is how we want you.
  • No nail polish. You may be asked to remove finger nail polish and fake nails so that your oxygenation can be monitored with a pulse oximeter.
  • No metal. If it’s removal and metal, such as rings, earrings, or other jewelry, make sure you take it out.

And that is my list. We hope it helps you as you prepare for your surgery day!

If you’d like to “Ask the Navigator,” email your questions to