This is a frightening and unpredictable time and, as is often the case in such times, it is best to be prepared for the worst. If it should happen that you or a loved one needs to go to the hospital, having the right items with you can really make a huge difference.
If you are hospitalized for COVID-19, friends and family will not be able to visit you to bring items you may have forgotten, so it is best to have an idea of everything you might need before you go.
We spoke to a few different sources about what might be best to bring with you to the hospital, as well as drawing on personal experience of hospital stays, to create a comprehensive list of recommended items.
One source we consulted suggested that you make a laminated card with your name, address, Social Security number, emergency contacts, and list of medications, then put it on a lanyard so hospital personnel will have that available if you are in distress. This seems like a lot of work, but it is likely that if you’re in the hospital, the staff will be overwhelmed and this might be extremely helpful in case they’re not operating with full ability to make you the traditional wristband etc.
Beyond that, here’s a basic list.
- A clear, complete list of your current medications, including name, dosage, and frequency of administration. Some sources recommend bringing those medications, in clearly labeled original bottles so that you don’t get charged for the hospital version and administration. Other sources say not to bring meds with you as they will be taken away and stored in a safe for the duration of your visit. If this is a planned hospital visit, we suggest that you call ahead to determine your specific hospital’s policy
- List of all allergies
- List of medical conditions
- List of dietary restrictions
- List and numbers of next of kin
- Photo ID
- Insurance card
- Mask and gloves
- Health care power of attorney
- Optional “do not resuscitate” or DNR
- Living will
- Comfortable clothes, including socks and extra underwear
- Comfortable shoes or slippers with non-slip bottoms in case you feel well enough to walk the halls
- Personal toiletries (razor, toothbrush, deodorant)
- Menstrual supplies if applicable
- Watch or windup clock
- Cell phone with charger
- External battery
- Laptop and/or iPad with charger — longer cord if possible
- Earbud headphones
- Reading glasses
- Reading material
- Leave jewelry, valuables, and cash at home. Most places will charge you for television or other extras, so a credit card might come in handy — but many hospitals will not guarantee the safety of your personal items
- Inhaler (if you use one)
- CPAP mask – hospital policies may vary. We suggest calling ahead to determine the policy at your specific hospital
- Soft ear plugs
- Eye mask
- Hand lotion
- Hearing aids
- Denture cleaning supplies
Phoebe Pinder is a videographer and content creator at Per Scholas, a tech education nonprofit dedicated to advancing economic equity by providing rigorous, cost-free training for tech careers.
Her writing has appeared not only at ClearHealthCosts and Per Scholas, but also at the Environmental Media Association. She was previously employed at CareerMD and Kaiser Permanente.
She is a graduate of Grinnell College and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY.