Monday, March 12, 2012

Organizing Medical Supplies

This post is the first in a three part series on organization.  Some of you will instantly know that traches and organization go hand in hand, or at least that is the goal.  For those of you who are scratching your heads let me explain that every month I get a delivery of roughly 256 medical thingies. That is counting Q-tips, artificial noses, and saline bullets individually, but there are 15 different types of thingies in there.  My system works great for us, it may not for you, but hopefully some idea may be helpful in devising your own strategy. 

My mother-in-law is famous for sharing the adage: "A place for everything and everything in it's place." So here are my places:

1. under crib storage

I built this drawer one late night when my husband was out of town and couldn't see the mess.  I measured the crib size and then made the drawer 4 inches smaller in both directions.  I had the person at Home Depot cut everything for me in the store so I could go home and assemble. Some day I would like to stain it to match the crib, but by the time that happens Maaike will be ready for a bed and then it wont match.  So for future matchiness it is all natural wood. Three points of interest:
  1. low profile- if you make one of these I would recommend keeping the height minimal for that it will be versatile for crib or bed.
  2. long handle- having a long handle really helps in a one-handed pull out.  All those supplies get heavy and you don't want to accidentally ram it into your crib legs or the wall.  This handle is actually a towel bar from Ikea for $1.99
  3. wheels- for an easy glide in and out, wheels are a must, but don't get swivel ones or the drawer will go all crazy like.  I strongly recommend the straight forward and back wheels to ensure a clean roll out every time.
2. storage bins

I always envisioned that I would make some super cute, fun, and colorful canvas totes for my storage bins.  I even went as far as to buy some canvas, but the pink throw-up bins from the hospital do work and will probably always work. Here's what's in mine
  1. saline bullets
  2. mouth sponges- my favorites are the green Toothetts, but insurance pays for these pink ones
  3. trach ties, pulse ox probes, and trach masks
  4. artificial noses
  5. suction catheters
  6. suction catheters
  7. inhalation fluid for humidifier
  8. portable oxygen
3. the basics close at hand

I saw a blog post sometime, somewhere, that used an over-the-door clear shoe storage sorter for small toys. I'd like to thank whoever that was for this inspiration.  Maaike's changing table is right next to this door so that as I do her trach care, change her diaper, get her dressed, you name it, I've got everything I need within arms reach and ready to go.  Here are my everyday go to's:
  1. small lingerie bag for dirty trach ties- I try to use a trach tie 3 times before pitching it and have found that they do much better in the washing machine in a lingerie bag than if I hand wash them. (hang dry)
  2. Passy-Muir valve
  3. spare traches- I keep them in small Tupperware containers (Ikea) to keep them clean and from being damaged
  4. clean trach ties
  5. trach tools- pipes cleaners for cleaning, scissors, red permanent marker (for marking suction depth on the catheter)
  6. sleeping supplies- trach mask, Posey wrap, elastic wrap to secure Posey wrap and pulse-ox probe
  7. sterile Q-tips
  8. Snug hug and shoulder roll (I use a swimming noodle cut in half)
  9. dental care- pink Toothette sponges, tooth brush, training tooth paste
  10. first aid- pediasure mix (for after throwing up), thermometer, infant Tylenol, moisture barrier for stoma
  11. sterile water and hydrogen peroxide for trach care
  12. hand sanitizer
  13. artificial noses
  14. essential oils- I use Burt's Bees for after her baths, Doterra's Breath blend on the bottom of her feet and Frankincense mixed with pure coconut oil directly over her cysts 
  15. saline bullets
  16. sterile water for suctioning
  17. hair stuff
  18. non petroleum diaper ointments (petroleum and oxygen are combustible) 
  19. diapers (I can fit 5 per pouch)
  20. shoes!
The next two organization topics will be medical equipment (aka the machines) and medical tasks (the daily trach to-do list).  Questions? Comments? Concerns? Talk to me.


  1. I'm 29 and have had my trach for 3 months (I had one from 0-18yrs), but it's still a bit of culture shock getting the huge deliveries of equipment and finding I have no where to keep everything! Currently my spare trachs are wrapped in toliet paper in my dressing table! This has inspired me to get organised! Thanks so much! X

    1. Lorna, I can't imagine the adjustment of being trach free for so long and then going back. I pray that it is goes smoothly for you. I am so glad this post was helpful. I write them with the thought in mind of "what I wish I had known from the beginning." Your comment has completely validated why I wanted to start this blog in the first place. God bless.

  2. I am so looking forward to every part of this series!! Our daughter has been in the hospital since she was born 15 months ago and we will soon be home with a ventilator and tons of supplies. The organization seems daunting!

    Thank you so much for taking the time to tackle this topic!! I love reading about your family and am always here cheering for sweet Maaike!

    1. Thrilled to met you Jen. I went over to your blog to read up on your sweet Ainsley. Her smile is killer! Absolutely adorable! I also wrote a post on "coming home" ( Congrats on bringing your baby home! I remember the mixed excitement and fear and then finally realizing that I could do it. You can too. I will try to get the next posts up soon. Congrats again!

  3. It's so cool for me to see how other people do these things. Thanks for letting us into your world :)

    1. Glad you found us. Your little guy is adorable!

  4. I am so glad that I found your post through presserfoot. I work as a child life specialist in a small hospital serving many patients with respiratory and rehab needs. I will definitely be sharing your blog with our respiratory team as a resource for parents preparing to transition home. Thanks for sharing your experience!
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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. That is counting Q-tips, artificial medical supplies noses, and saline bullets individually, but there are 15 different types of thingies in there. My system works great for us,

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