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Leaving the hospital to go home

Getting ready to leave

Our top priority is your child’s health and safety. Before they leave, we’ll make sure it’s safe for them to go home and that they have everything they need.

Our goal is for your child to leave before 11 a.m. on the last day of their stay. This time may change based on how your child is doing, their care needs, and their lab and test results.

As we work to move your child to the next phase in their care, we’ll make sure they’re ready and that you have all the skills and resources to help them recover well at home. If your child is not medically ready to leave before 11 a.m., we’ll give you as much notice as possible.

If you have any questions or concerns about caring for your child at home, let us know.

Plan now for your child’s ride home

If you need any help getting them home, please tell your nurse as early as possible. When your child’s ride is here, we’ll help you and your child get to the car.

Our goal is for your child to leave before 11 a.m., but the exact time may change based on their test results, care needs, and the arrangements being made by their care team.  

Car safety tips 

If your child is required to use a car seat, it’s not legal for you to let them ride in your car without one. These are the things you need to do: 

  • Make sure that all passengers are properly restrained in your vehicle. Do not let any child ride without the correct car seat or seat belt. 
  • Properly installed car seats shouldn’t move more than one inch side-to-side and front-to-back. 
  • The car seat harness clip should be level with the child’s armpit. 
  • Have your car seat checked by a certified child passenger safety technician. For more information and to find a list of child safety seat fitting stations in Tennessee and Kentucky go to 
  • Children younger than 12 should always ride in the back seat. 

If your child has TennCare, you can get a ride from the hospital and for follow-up care

Call if you need a ride home from the hospital or to a future follow-up appointment.

  • BlueCare members call (855) 735-4660 
  • TennCareSelect members call (866) 473-7565 
  • United Healthcare members call (866) 405-0238 
  • Amerigroup members call (866) 680-0633 

When you call for a ride, the customer service representative will need to know these things:

  • Your child’s full name, phone number, address, date of birth, and county of residence OR the Medicaid number that’s on their Medicaid card
  • Any special needs you or your child has—like oxygen or an escort
  • Where you need to go, including the address, phone number, doctor’s name, type of appointment, and name of the medical facility
  • If you and your child use a wheelchair or other assistive device, or are able to walk
  • An emergency contact’s name and phone number

This ride service is NOT for medical emergencies. For all emergencies, call 911. 

Home care instructions

Before your child leaves, their nurse will give you written discharge instructions and go over them with you. Listen closely and be sure to ask questions! We’ll make sure you know how to keep your child safe after you leave.

The instructions you get will include details about:

  • medicines
  • diet and activity guidelines
  • signs and symptoms to look out for as your child recovers
  • follow-up appointments 
  • any in-home care your child needs
  • If your child needs to go to a rehabilitation facility or assisted living after you leave, we’ll make sure they have all the details they need about you and your health.


Your child’s nurse will talk with you about what medicines your child needs, what the medicines are for, how to take them, and their possible side effects. Before you leave, make sure you’ve made plans to have your child’s prescriptions filled at the pharmacy you prefer. We’ll talk with you about this. If you think it will be difficult for you to get your child’s medicines(s), please tell your nurse before you leave. 

Diet and activity 

When your child leaves, they may not be back to 100 percent yet. There may be some limits on what they can do and eat when they get home. For example, your provider may put them on a special diet or ask them not to lift anything heavy while they recover.
Signs and symptoms to watch for

We’ll go over the signs and symptoms to look out for as your child gets better—including such things as pain, fever, and bleeding—and teach you what to do if your child has any of them.

Follow-up appointments

In their discharge instructions, you’ll find a list of your child’s scheduled follow-up appointments. If you have any questions or need to make any other appointments you can use our health portal, My Health at Vanderbilt. You may also call the number for the clinic listed on your After Visit Summary to schedule follow-up appointments. 

Learn how to sign up for MHAV here: Getting Started with My Health at Vanderbilt 

In-home care needs

Your child may also need special in-home services, like nursing care, infusions, physical therapy, or medical equipment. If this is the case, one of our nursing case managers or social workers will help you make arrangements and can connect you with agencies. Be sure to ask us all your questions. There may be more help available to you than you know. 

Patient Transport

For your safety and convenience, someone from patient transport will help you and your child to your ride or car. We can provide a wheelchair. Or depending on your child’s medical condition, they may be able to walk out on their own. We’ll talk with you about this. 

You may need to wait for your ride in the Discharge Lounge

This can happen if you’re waiting for your ride when it’s time for your child to leave their room. The lounge is a comfortable place for you to wait. And it will allow us to get your child’s room ready for the next patient. 

After your child leaves

After your child leaves the hospital, we're still here for you. We’re never more than a click or phone call away. Call us. Send us a message through your My Health at Vanderbilt Account. We’re here for you whenever you need.

Sign your child up for a My Health at Vanderbilt account

My Health at Vanderbilt is an easy way to make or change appointments, see test results, send messages to your providers, and pay medical bills. If you haven’t already signed your child up for an account, try to do this before you leave the hospital or when you get home. Let us know if you need any help.
Learn how to sign up for MHAV here: Getting Started with My Health at Vanderbilt