What airport do we fly into? Back to top
There are two airports in the Houston area: "Hobby" and "Intercontinental". What airport you fly into will most probably be defined by what airline you use. Hobby is slightly closer to the Texas Medical Center but it makes only a small difference in travel time because of traffic patterns at different times of the day.
How can we get free or discounted airfare? Back to top
The Flight Assistance Page lists the many air carriers and organizations that may be available to help you get free or discounted flights. Airline carriers use unused frequent flyer miles for these flights. Occasionally, they will tell you that they have "run out" of these miles and may temporarily shut down their medical flight program. This is why it's important to start seeking these options as soon as you have a clinic or surgery appointment. Some airline carriers or organizations may only allow you one or two flights per lifetime. Some offer tickets for child and one parent or just the individual adult traveling, but ask for a second adult/parent ticket. Availability and rules change often. Some organizations require a letter from a non-profit organization. Some people go to a community or religious organization for the letter. Brachial plexus patients can contact the United Brachial Plexus Network, Inc. 866-877-7004 www.ubpn.org for a letter. Don't forget to ask what the options or penalties are for flight changes.
How many days should we stay in Houston? Back to top
This answer will vary from person to person, family to family. How many days you arrive before surgery depends on how many pre-operative tests are ordered. You may need one day to do testing and splinting or you may need two or more. Your child may or may not need additional post-operative care. Dr. Nath may ask that you stay an additional 24 hours. We do suggest, however, that you go home as soon as you are allowed to go home so that your child can get back to familiar surroundings, routines and his/her own comfy bed.
When we get to Houston , should we rent a car? Back to top
Many people do well without renting a car. Houston has a terrific transportation system and many of the hotels offer free shuttle service to and from the hospitals and other places within a 2-mile radius of the medical center. Check with your hotel for information on their shuttle services. Transferring from and to the airports can be done easily by taxi or private driver (limousine). Note that hotel shuttles will not transfer you to and from the airport. There are standard posted rates by zone on the taxi booths at each airport and in each taxi. Please verbally confirm this rate with your taxi driver before you enter the taxi. If you need credit card payment availability, just tell the person in the taxi booth when you request your taxi. Private towncars cost around the same price (or slightly more) as the taxi and can offer you some additional comfort.
Check websites like www.limos.com for listings in the Houston area. Once you have booked a driver, ask him for the exact location where he will be waiting for you, whether or not he will have a sign with your name on it, and if there is enough room in his car for a car seat (requiring a middle seat belt). Also, get his cell phone number in case you cannot find him at the airport. Taxi and towncars will cost somewhere in the range of $100+ round-trip. If your child is involved in multiple medical testing in the day(s) before surgery, a taxi shuttle (at no cost to you) will be provided. Brenda at Dr. Nath's office (866-675-2200) can give you the details about that when you discuss what tests are necessary.
Where will we find a hotel to stay at? Back to top
There are many hotels within a two-mile radius of the Texas Medical Center . The four closest hotels frequently visited by families is listed on this site. When searching for a hotel online, the key words for the area will be the " Texas Medical Center ". Texas Nerve & Paralysis Institute has a contract with Residence Inn for a one-room suite (two beds) with a full kitchenette for $59 per night. You get a free shuttle, free breakfast and grocery service. The promotional code used for this Residence Inn discount is "N8B". Some families use the Entertainment card, AAA card and military or government I.D.'s for good discounts. Some hotels give you better discounts if you book online.
Are there fun things to do in Houston if we come a day or two earlier?
If your child is having surgery: Do we need a stroller or a car seat when coming to Houston ? Back to top
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Yes! Houston is a great town for fun! See this page for a small listing of fun things to do. The Zoo (good for a very young child) and the Children's museum (good for children in that 5+ range) are very close to the hospitals and make for a good half-day outing. If the weather is nice, swimming at the hotel pool can make even the most nervous relax. (By the way, the Marriott and Best Western have indoor pools but please check in advance to see if they are operational and warm.) For adults, Houston is a hub of cultural, culinary and theatrical delight. A web search for "Houston Area Attractions" should yield a nice listing of places to go around the town. Your hotel will also have pamphlets and brochures in their lobby. The hotel shuttle for most hotels should be able to bring you to and from if within the two-mile radius of the hotel.
You will need an "airplane compatible" car seat for the airplane and for any traveling in a car while in Houston . Moms have informed us that the best carseat to use is a five-point harness car seat where the straps are adjustable in the front. Infant seats with adjustable strapping works fine for infants with a primary surgery immobilizer. Strollers are very helpful when traveling. You can actually wheel your stroller directly to the airplane's door and when you arrive it will be waiting for you in that same area. Older children (ages 3-5) might still need the assistance of a stroller to help them navigate the long walks through the airport while still tired from their surgeries.
If your child is having surgery: Should we keep our hotel room while our child is in the hospital? Back to top
This is a personal preference. Some families keep a hotel room and the parents take turns going back to the hotel to rest and shower. Some families completely pack up and move into the hospital for the entire time the child is there. Many of the surgeries are now outpatient or only an overnight stay, so keep that in mind. At Memorial Hermann Children's Hospital both parents can stay there. They have a bench bed near the window for one parent and a recliner chair for the other parent. Every room there has a full bathroom with bathing facilities. If an infant is most comforted in a "family bed", you may request a regular hospital bed instead of a crib.
If your child is having surgery: Will we have a problem seating our child in the airplane after surgery? Back to top
Try to get "bulkhead" seating (these go fast so request this early on) if you can. The bulkhead is the first row in the regular cabin. It has a little extra legroom because there are no seats in front of it. Which arm will be splinted? Get seating on the opposite side of the airplane. If the left arm is splinted, get a seat on the right side of the airplane. Have water/drinks available as well as a bag for stomach sickness, a box of wipes and change of clothing. Also make sure that the patient is adequately medicated (if necessary) for pain during the travel time. Adults in splints may be able to get an open seat in first class without additional cost. It never hurts to ask.