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Information for Family and Friends for the Day of Surgery

This information explains to your family and friends what will happen on the day of surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC).

Before the Surgery

Upon arrival to the hospital, the patient will be asked to provide contact information for the person who will be speaking to the surgeon after the surgery. If the patient is having an outpatient procedure, he or she will also be asked to provide contact information for the person who will be taking the patient home.

Once the patient is checked in, he or she will go to the Presurgical Center (PSC) to be examined before surgery. One person may come along, but others should wait in the concierge waiting area. If the patient wishes, other people may join him or her when the nurse has finished the examination.

When the operating room (OR) is ready, the surgical team will take the patient there. They will prepare the patient for surgery, which usually takes 30 to 90 minutes, then the surgery will begin.

Please remember the following:

  • Do not bring food or drinks to the waiting area or the PSC. Patients are not allowed to eat before their surgery or procedure.
  • If the patient brought any valuables, such as a cell phone, iPod, iPad, etc., please keep it safe for them.
  • Children under the age of 11 are not allowed to go into the PSC. They must wait in the main lobby on the 1st floor with a responsible adult.

During the Surgery

After the patient is taken to the OR, all visitors should go to the main lobby on the 1st floor.

  • Food and drinks are available on the 1st floor in the cafeteria and in the gift shop. You can also bring your own food and eat it in the cafeteria.
  • The coat-check room is at the bottom of the escalator on the ground level. It is open Monday through Friday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.
  • Wireless Internet access is available in most areas of the hospital. You may also use the computers in the rooms off the main lobby.
  • Please use the designated cell phone area to accept and make calls. It may be useful to bring your phone charger to the hospital. Please be courteous and mindful of others while using your cell phone.
  • The Mary French Rockefeller Chapel, an interfaith chapel near the main lobby on the 1st floor, is open at all times for meditation and prayer.
  • The Patient Recreation Pavilion is open daily from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm for patients and their visitors over the age of 11. Arts and crafts, a library, an outdoor terrace, and scheduled entertainment events are available in this area. To get there, take the M elevators to the 15th floor.

A clinical nurse specialist (CNS) will make rounds in the main lobby about every 2 hours to:

  • Give you information about the patient
  • Prepare you for your meeting with the surgeon
  • Prepare you for visiting the patient in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU)

You can contact the CNS between his or her regular visits in the lobby.

  • From inside the hospital, use a hospital courtesy phone. Dial 2000 and ask for beeper 9000. Please be patient; this can take up to 2 minutes.
  • From outside of the hospital, call (212) 639-2000. Ask for beeper 9000.
  • You may also ask the information desk staff to contact the CNS for you.

After the Surgery

When the patient's surgery is done, we will call you to come back to the concierge desk. Please take the B elevator to the 6th floor and check in at the concierge desk. The concierge staff will bring you to a private consultation room to speak with the surgeon.

After you have met with the surgeon, you should return to the concierge desk and tell them that you have finished your consultation.

After surgery, the patient will be taken to the PACU. It can take up to 90 minutes before the patient is ready to have visitors. You can use this time to take a walk or just relax in the waiting area until the patient is ready to see you.

Once the patient is ready for visitors, a nurse will take you to the PACU. Please remember that a limited number of visitors can go into the PACU. This is to keep the area quiet and avoid crowding.

While visiting in the PACU

  • Silence your cell phone.
  • Apply hand sanitizer before entering.
  • Keep noise to a minimum. All patients in the room need to rest.
  • Do not wander away from the patient's bedside. It's important to respect each patient's right to privacy.
  • Do not bring food or flowers into the PACU.
  • Limit the time of your visit so that the patient can rest and recover.
  • You may be asked to leave if there is an emergency, x-rays need to be done nearby, or patient care is being interrupted.

The nurse will update you on the patient's condition. He or she will also explain the plan of care for the patient, such as whether the patient is staying overnight and when he or she will be moved to an inpatient room. You should feel assured that you can leave the hospital after your visit. We will give you a card with the PACU phone number. Please appoint one person to call for updates.