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Q: What should you pack — and not pack — for a hospital stay?

A: JENNIFER MOHR, nurse coordinator of Carle's otolaryngology department, advises packing light.

"We encourage people to keep in mind, you won't be here that long," she said.

Hospital policies can vary, but here are the basics:


– Personal-care items such as toothpaste and shampoo and extra pillows and blankets will all be supplied by the hospital, but you're welcome to bring your own if you want. In some cases, patients are more comfortable with their own pillows and blankets, according to Dr. KRISHAN KATARIA, lead hospitalist at OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center.

— Cellphones, laptops and handheld games can help pass the time. Don't forget the chargers, Mohr advised.

— Your advance directives.

— Favorite toy and/or blanket for kids: Definitely encouraged.


— Jewelry and other valuables. That includes wedding rings for Carle patients, Mohr said. At OSF Heart of Mary, patients are OK to arrive with their wedding rings on, but be aware the rings will need to be removed for certain procedures such as an MRI, Kataria said.

— Electric blankets and extension cords can pose a tripping hazard, Kataria said.

— Your medications: Bring a list of the prescription and over-the-counter medicines you take and the dosage for each, but leave the actual medications at home.

At Carle, all your medications must come from the hospital pharmacy, Mohr said. That's for safety reasons, to make sure it's the right medicine, right dose and that there won't be any dangerous drug interactions, she said.

At OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center, the only time patients may bring their own medications is if the hospital pharmacy doesn't stock them or a substitute, which typically would apply to oncology drugs, Kataria said.


— Your robe and slippers: Mohr said Carle discourages bringing those items, because not all slippers have non-skid soles and robes can be tricky to get off and on for patients with IVs. The hospital will supply you with two gowns to cover your front and back for privacy and non-skid socks, she said.

Patients coming to OSF Heart of Mary are welcome to pack robes and slippers, Kataria said.

— Your own snacks: You may be placed on a restrictive diet, so check with the nurses before eating foods that you or your visitors bring.