About Your Abdominal Incisional Hernia Surgery

About Your Surgery

This guide will help you prepare for your abdominal incisional hernia surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK). It will also help you understand what to expect during your recovery.

Read through this guide at least once before your surgery and use it as a reference in the days leading up to your surgery. Bring this guide with you every time you come to MSK, including the day of your surgery. You and your healthcare team will refer to it throughout your care.

About Abdominal Wall Hernias

Your abdominal wall, which is made up of muscles, protect the organs in your abdomen (belly).

A hernia happens when an organ or fatty tissue squeezes through a weak spot in the abdominal muscles or connective tissue (see Figure 1).

Figure 1.

One type of hernia is an incisional hernia. An incisional hernia can develop around the incision (surgical cut) in the scar tissue from an earlier surgery (see Figure 2). This can happen in any surgery that was done in your abdominal area from the breastbone down to the groin.

Figure 2.

If you have an incisional hernia, you may notice a swelling or a bulge under your skin where you had your previous surgery. You may also have discomfort in your abdomen when lifting or bending.

About Your Hernia Surgery

You will need surgery to fix your hernia. There are different types of hernia surgeries, including an open surgery or a laparoscopic surgery. Your surgeon will speak with you about what type of hernia surgery is best for you.

Laparoscopic Surgery

In a laparoscopic surgery, your surgeon will make a few small incisions in your abdomen. Your abdomen will be inflated with air so that your surgeon can see your organs. Your surgeon will insert a thin, lighted scope called a laparoscope through the incision. They will insert tools to repair the hernia through the other incisions.

Open Surgery

In an open surgery, your surgeon will make an incision large enough to remove scar tissue and fat from your abdominal wall near the hernia. They may also apply a mesh patch to hold the weakened area in your abdominal wall. The mesh patch will be attached to your abdominal wall, covering the hole or weakened area beneath it. Over time, this patch will be absorbed by your inner abdominal wall.

Your surgery will take about 3 hours.

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Before Your Surgery

The information in this section will help you prepare for your surgery. Read through this section when your surgery is scheduled and refer to it as your surgery date gets closer. It contains important information about what you need to do before your surgery. Write down any questions you have and be sure to ask your doctor or nurse.

Preparing for Your Surgery

You and your healthcare team will work together to prepare for your surgery.

Help us keep you safe during your surgery by telling us if any of the following statements apply to you, even if you aren’t sure.

  • I take a blood thinner. Some examples are heparin, warfarin (Coumadin®), clopidogrel (Plavix®), enoxaparin (Lovenox®), dabigatran (Pradaxa®), apixaban (Eliquis®), and rivaroxaban (Xarelto®). There are others, so be sure your doctor knows all the medications you’re taking.
  • I take prescription medications, including patches and creams.
  • I take any over-the-counter medications, herbs, vitamins, minerals, or natural or home remedies.
  • I have a pacemaker, automatic implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (AICD), or other heart device.
  • I have sleep apnea.
  • I have had a problem with anesthesia (medication to make you sleep during surgery) in the past.
  • I am allergic to certain medication(s) or materials, including latex.
  • I am not willing to receive a blood transfusion.
  • I drink alcohol.
  • I smoke.
  • I use recreational drugs.

About Drinking Alcohol

The amount of alcohol you drink can affect you during and after your surgery. It’s important that you talk with your healthcare providers about your alcohol intake so that we can plan your care.

  • Stopping alcohol suddenly can cause seizures, delirium, and death. If we know you’re at risk for these complications, we can prescribe medication to help prevent them.
  • If you use alcohol regularly, you may be at risk for other complications during and after surgery. These include bleeding, infections, heart problems, and a longer hospital stay.

Here are things you can do to prevent problems before your surgery:

  • Be honest with your healthcare provider about how much alcohol you drink.
  • Try to stop drinking alcohol once your surgery is planned. If you develop a headache, nausea, increased anxiety, or can’t sleep after you stop drinking, tell your doctor right away. These are early signs of alcohol withdrawal and can be treated.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you can’t stop drinking.
  • Ask us any questions you have about drinking and surgery. As always, all of your medical information will be kept confidential.

About Smoking

People who smoke can have breathing problems when they have surgery. Stopping even for a few days before surgery can help. If you smoke, your nurse will refer you to our Tobacco Treatment Program. You can also reach the program at 212-610-0507.

About Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a common breathing disorder that causes a person to stop breathing for short periods of time while sleeping. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). With OSA, the airway becomes completely blocked during sleep. It can cause serious problems during and after surgery.

Please tell us if you have sleep apnea or if you think you might have it. If you use a breathing machine (such as a CPAP) for sleep apnea, bring it with you the day of your surgery.

Within 30 Days of Your Surgery

Presurgical Testing (PST)

Before your surgery, you will have an appointment for presurgical testing (PST). The date, time, and location of your PST appointment will be printed on the appointment reminder from your surgeon’s office. You can eat and take your usual medications the day of your PST appointment.

During your appointment, you will meet with a nurse practitioner (NP) who works closely with anesthesiology staff (doctors and specialized nurses who will give you medication to put you to sleep during your surgery). They will review your medical and surgical history with you. You will have tests, including an electrocardiogram (EKG) to check your heart rhythm, a chest x-ray, blood tests, and any other tests necessary to plan your care. Your NP may also recommend you see other healthcare providers.

Your NP will talk with you about which medications you should take the morning of your surgery.

It’s very helpful if you bring the following with you to your PST appointment:

  • A list of all the medications you’re taking, including patches and creams.
  • Results of any tests done outside of MSK, such as a cardiac stress test, echocardiogram, or carotid doppler study.
  • The name(s) and telephone number(s) of your doctor(s).

Complete a Health Care Proxy Form

If you haven’t already completed a Health Care Proxy form, we recommend you complete one now. A health care proxy is a legal document that identifies the person who will speak for you if you’re unable to communicate for yourself. The person you identify is called your health care agent.

If you’re interested in completing a Health Care Proxy form, talk with your nurse. If you have completed one already, or if you have any other advance directive, bring it with you to your next appointment.

Do Breathing and Coughing Exercises

Practice taking deep breaths and coughing before your surgery. You will be given an incentive spirometer to help expand your lungs. For more information, read How to Use Your Incentive Spirometer. If you have any questions, ask your nurse or respiratory therapist.

Eat a Healthy Diet

You should eat a well-balanced, healthy diet before your surgery. If you need help with your diet, talk with your doctor or nurse about meeting with a dietitian.

10 Days Before Your Surgery

Stop Taking Vitamin E

If you take vitamin E, stop taking it 10 days before your surgery because it can cause bleeding. For more information, read Common Medications Containing Aspirin and Other Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs).

Purchase Hibiclens® Skin Cleanser, if Needed

Hibiclens is a skin cleanser that kills germs for 24 hours after using it (see Figure 3). Showering with Hibiclens before your surgery will help reduce your risk of infection after surgery. You can buy Hibiclens at your local pharmacy without a prescription.

Purchase Supplies for Bowel Preparation, if Needed

You may need to do a bowel preparation before your surgery. Your nurse will tell you if you do. If so, buy 1 (10-ounce) bottle of magnesium citrate. You can buy magnesium citrate at your local pharmacy without a prescription.

7 Days Before Your Surgery

Stop Taking Certain Medications

If you take aspirin, ask your surgeon if you should continue. Aspirin and medications that contain aspirin can cause bleeding. For more information, read Common Medications Containing Aspirin and Other Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs).

Stop Taking Herbal Remedies and Supplements

Stop taking herbal remedies or supplements 7 days before your surgery. If you take a multivitamin, talk with your doctor or nurse about if you should continue. For more information, read Herbal Remedies and Cancer Treatment.

Watch a Virtual Tour

This video will give you an idea of what to expect when you come to Memorial Sloan Kettering’s main hospital on the day of your surgery.

2 Days Before Your Surgery

Stop Taking Certain Medications

Stop taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®), and naproxen (Aleve®) 2 days before your surgery. These medications can cause bleeding. For more information, read Common Medications Containing Aspirin and Other Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs).

1 Day Before Your Surgery

    Follow a Clear Liquid Diet, if Needed

    Your nurse will tell you if you need to follow a clear liquid diet. Examples of clear liquids are listed in the table below.

    While you’re on this diet:

    • Don’t eat any solid foods.
    • Make sure to drink plenty of liquids other than water, coffee, and tea. Try to drink at least 1 (8-ounce) glass of clear liquid every hour while you’re awake.
    Clear Liquid Diet
      Drink Do Not Drink
    Soups
    • Clear broth, bouillon, or consommé
    • Any products with particles of dried food or seasoning
    Sweets
    • Gelatin, such as Jell-O®
    • Flavored ices
    • Hard candies, such as Lifesavers®
    • All others
    Drinks
    • Clear fruit juices, such as apple, cranberry, lemonade, or grape
    • Soda, such as 7-Up®, Sprite®, ginger ale, seltzer
    • Gatorade®
    • Black coffee
    • Tea
    • Water
    • Juices with pulp
    • Nectars
    • Milk (or cream)
    • Alcoholic beverages

    Start Bowel Preparation, If Needed

    If your surgeon or nurse told you that you needed to do a bowel preparation, you will need to start it 1 day before your surgery. During your bowel preparation:

    • Don’t eat any solid foods.
    • Make sure to drink plenty of liquids other than water, black coffee, and tea. Try to drink at least 1 (8-ounce) glass every hour while you’re awake.

    At 2:00 pm on the day before your surgery, drink the magnesium citrate.

    Note the Time of Your Surgery

    A clerk from the Admitting Office will call you after 2:00 pm the day before your surgery. The clerk will tell you what time you should arrive at the hospital for your surgery. If you’re scheduled for surgery on a Monday, you will be called on the Friday before. If you don’t receive a call by 7:00 pm, please call 212-639-5014.

    Both locations are at 1275 York Avenue between East 67th and East 68th streets.

    • Presurgical Center (PSC) on the 2nd floor
      M elevator to 2nd floor
    • Presurgical Center (PSC) on the 6th floor
      B elevator to 6th floor

    Shower with Hibiclens, if Needed

    If your surgeon told you to shower with Hibiclens, use it the night before your surgery. To use Hibiclens, open the bottle and pour some solution into your hand or a washcloth. Move away from the shower stream to avoid rinsing off the Hibiclens too soon. Rub it gently over your body from your neck to your waist and rinse.

    Don’t let the solution get into your eyes, ears, mouth, or genital area. Don’t use any other soap. Dry yourself off with a clean towel after your shower.

    Sleep

    Go to bed early and get a full night’s sleep.

    Instructions for eating and drinking before your surgery

    12 ounces of water

    • Do not eat anything after midnight the night before your surgery. This includes hard candy and gum.
    • Between midnight and up until 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time, you may drink a total of 12 ounces of water (see figure).
    • Starting 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time, do not eat or drink anything. This includes water.

    The Morning of Your Surgery

    Shower with Hibiclens

    Shower using Hibiclens just before you leave for the hospital. Use the Hibiclens the same way you did the night before.

    Don’t use any other soap. Don’t put on any lotion, cream, powder, deodorant, makeup, or perfume after your shower.

    Take Your Medications

    If your doctor or NP instructed you to take certain medications the morning of your surgery, take only those medications with a sip of water. Depending on what medications you take and the surgery you’re having, this may be all, some, or none of your usual morning medications.

    Things to Remember

    • Don’t put on any lotion, cream, deodorant, makeup, powder, perfume, or cologne.
    • Don’t wear any metal objects. Remove all jewelry, including body piercings. The equipment used during your surgery can cause burns if it touches metal.
    • Leave valuables, such as credit cards, jewelry, or your checkbook at home.
    • Before you’re taken into the operating room, you will need to remove your hearing aids, dentures, prosthetic device(s), wig, and religious articles.
    • If you wear contact lenses, wear your glasses instead. Wearing contact lenses during surgery can damage your eyes.
    • If you’re currently menstruating, use a sanitary pad, not a tampon. You’ll get disposable underwear, as well as a pad if needed.

    • This guide. Your healthcare team will use this guide to teach you how to care for yourself after your surgery.
    • Only the money you may need for a newspaper, bus, taxi, or parking
    • Your portable music player, if you choose. However, someone will need to hold it for you when you go into surgery.
    • Your incentive spirometer, if you have one.
    • Your breathing machine for sleep apnea (such as your CPAP), if you have one.
    • A case for your personal items, such as eyeglasses, hearing aid(s), dentures, prosthetic device(s), wig, and religious articles, if you have it.
    • Your asthma medication, such as your inhaler.
    • Your Health Care Proxy Form, if you have completed one.

    Parking When You Arrive

    MSK’s parking garage is located on East 66th Street between York and First Avenues. If you have questions about prices, call 212- 639-2338.

    To reach the garage, turn onto East 66th Street from York Avenue. The garage is located about a quarter of a block in from York Avenue, on the right-hand (north) side of the street. There is a pedestrian tunnel that you can walk through that connects the garage to the hospital.

    There are also other garages located on East 69th Street between First and Second Avenues, East 67th Street between York and First Avenues, and East 65th Street between First and Second Avenues.

    Once You’re in the Hospital

    You will be asked to state and spell your name and date of birth many times. This is for your safety. People with the same or similar names may be having surgery on the same day.

    Get Dressed for Surgery

    When it’s time to change for surgery, you will get a hospital gown, robe, and nonskid socks to wear.

    Meet With Your Nurse

    You will meet with your nurse before surgery. Tell your nurse the dose of any medications (including patches and creams) you took after midnight and the time you took them.

    Your nurse may place an intravenous (IV) line into one of your veins, usually in your arm or hand. If your nurse doesn’t place the IV, your anesthesiologist will do it later once you’re in the operating room.

    Meet With Your Anesthesiologist

    Your anesthesiologist will:

    • Review your medical history with you.
    • Talk with you about your comfort and safety during your surgery.
    • Talk with you about the kind of anesthesia you will receive.
    • Answer any questions you may have about your anesthesia.
    Prepare For Your Surgery

    Once your nurse has seen you, 1 or 2 visitors can keep you company as you wait for your surgery to begin. When it’s time for your surgery, your visitor(s) will be shown to the waiting area. Your visitors should read Information for Family and Friends for the Day of Surgery.

    You will either walk into the operating room or be taken in on a stretcher. A member of the operating room team will help you onto the operating bed. Compression boots will be placed on your lower legs. These gently inflate and deflate to help blood flow in your legs.

    Once you’re comfortable, your anesthesiologist will give you anesthesia through your IV line and you will fall asleep. You will also get fluids through your IV line during and after your surgery.

    Once you’re fully asleep, a breathing tube will be placed through your mouth and into your windpipe to help you breathe. You will also have a urinary Foley® catheter (thin, flexible tube) placed to drain urine from your bladder.

    Once your surgery is finished, your incision will be closed with staples or with sutures (stitches). Steri-StripsTM (thin pieces of tape) will be placed directly on your incision and covered with a bandage. Your breathing tube is usually taken out while you’re still in the operating room.

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    After Your Surgery

    The information in this section will tell you what to expect after your surgery, both during your hospital stay and after you leave the hospital. You will learn how to safely recover from your surgery. Write down any questions you have and be sure to ask your doctor or nurse.

    What to Expect

    When you wake up after your surgery, you will be in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU).

    You will get oxygen through a thin tube that rests below your nose called a nasal cannula. A nurse will be monitoring your body temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and oxygen levels.

    You will have a Foley catheter in your bladder to monitor the amount of urine you’re making. For most people, it’s removed 2 days after surgery. You will also have compression boots on your lower legs to help your circulation. They will be taken off when you’re able to walk.

    You may also have a Jackson-Pratt® drain (JP drain). The drain is used to collect extra fluid to decrease your risk for infection and help your body heal. Most of the time, the drains are removed after a few days. If you go home with a drain, your nurse will show you how to care for it.

    You will be given medications to control your pain and keep you comfortable. There are different ways that these medications can be given.

    • Epidural catheter. Some people may get pain medication through an epidural catheter in their spine. It may be a patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) device. PCA uses a computerized pump to deliver pain medication into your IV. For more information, read Patient-Controlled Analgesia (PCA)
    • Nerve block. Some people may get a nerve block before or during surgery. In a nerve block, your doctor injects medication into some of your nerve to reduce pain after surgery. 
    • Intravenous medications. Some people may get pain medications straight into a vein through their IV line. 
    • Oral medications. Some people may get oral pain medications (medication that’s swallowed, such as pills).

    You may have 1 or more of these after your surgery. They’re all effective methods to control your pain, and your doctor will talk with you before choosing the best one(s) for you.

    Your visitors can see you briefly in the PACU, usually within 90 minutes after you arrive there. A member of the nursing staff will explain the guidelines to them.

     After your stay in the PACU, you will be taken to your hospital room. Soon after you arrive in your room, you will be helped out of bed and into a chair.

    Your nurse will tell you how to recover from your surgery. Below are examples of ways you can help yourself recover safely.

    • It’s important to walk around after surgery. Walking every 2 hours is a good goal. This will help prevent blood clots in your legs.
    • Use your incentive spirometer. This will help your lungs expand, which prevents pneumonia. For more information, read How to Use Your Incentive Spirometer.

    Commonly Asked Questions

    Will I have pain after my surgery?

    You will have some pain from your incision(s) after your surgery. Your doctor and nurse will ask you about your pain often. You will be given medication to manage your pain as needed. If your pain is not relieved, tell your doctor or nurse. It’s important to control your pain so you can cough, breathe deeply, use your incentive spirometer, and get out of bed and walk.

    Will I be able to eat?

    You may be able to have ice chips the day after your surgery. After that, you can start having sips of clear liquids. You will gradually advance to a regular diet as you recover.

    How long will I be in the hospital?

    Most people are in the hospital for 2 days after a laparoscopic surgery and 5 days after an open surgery but this will depend on the exact surgery that is done.

    Will I have pain when I am home?

    The length of time each person has pain or discomfort varies. You may still have some pain when you go home and will probably be taking pain medication. Follow the guidelines below:

    • Take your medications as directed and as needed.
    • Call your doctor if the medication prescribed for you doesn’t relieve your pain.
    • Don’t drive or drink alcohol while you’re taking prescription pain medication.
    • As your incision heals, you will have less pain and need less pain medication. A mild pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) will relieve aches and discomfort. However, large quantities of acetaminophen may be harmful to your liver. Don’t take more acetaminophen than the amount directed on the bottle or as instructed by your doctor or nurse.
    • Pain medication should help you as you resume your normal activities. Take enough medication to do your exercises comfortably. Pain medication is most effective 30 to 45 minutes after taking it. Keep track of when you take your pain medication. Taking it when your pain first begins is more effective than waiting for the pain to get worse.

    Pain medication may cause constipation (having fewer bowel movements than what is normal for you).

    How can I prevent constipation?

    • Go to the bathroom at the same time every day. Your body will get used to going at that time.
    • If you feel the urge to go, do not put it off. Try to use the bathroom 5 to 15 minutes after meals.
    • After breakfast is a good time to move your bowels. The reflexes in your colon are strongest at this time.
    • Exercise if you can. Walking is an excellent form of exercise.
    • Drink 8 (8-ounce) glasses (2 liters) of liquids daily, if you can. Drink water, juices, soups, ice cream shakes, and other drinks that don’t have caffeine. Beverages with caffeine, such as coffee and soda, pull fluid out of the body.
    • Slowly increase the fiber in your diet to 25 to 35 grams per day. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and cereals contain fiber. If you have an ostomy or have had recent bowel surgery, check with your doctor or nurse before making any changes in your diet.
    • Both over-the-counter and prescription medications are available to treat constipation. Start with 1 of the following over-the-counter medications first:
      • Polyethylene glycol (MiraLAX®) 17 grams daily.
      • Senna (Senokot®) 2 tablets at bedtime. This is a stimulant laxative, which can cause cramping. If you haven’t had a bowel movement in 2 days, call your doctor or nurse.

    How do I care for my incision?

    The location of your incision will depend on the type of surgery you had. It’s normal for the skin below your incision to feel numb, because some of the nerves were cut. The numbness will go away over time.

    • By the time you’re ready to leave the hospital, your surgical incision will have begun to heal.
    • You and your caregiver should look at your incision with your nurse before you leave the hospital so you know what it looks like.
    • If there is anything draining from your incision, you should write down the amount and color. Call your doctor’s office and speak with the nurse about any drainage from your incision.

    Your nurse will discuss the signs of infection with you.

    If you go home with bandages over your incision, change them at least once a day and more often if they become wet with drainage. When there is no longer any drainage coming from your incision, it can be left uncovered.

    If you go home with Steri-Strips on your incision, they will loosen and fall off by themselves. If they haven’t fallen off within 10 days, you may remove them.

    If you go home with glue over your sutures, it will also loosen and peel off, similarly to the Steri-Strips.

    Is it normal to feel tired?

    Yes, feeling tired (fatigue) is common after surgery, and may last for 6 to 8 weeks. This will improve slowly over time. Try to increase your activity level every day to help manage your fatigue. Get up, get dressed, and walk. You may need a nap during the day, but try to stay out of bed as much as possible so you will sleep at night.

    How will my diet change after surgery?

    After your surgery, you may have a lack of appetite and feel full quickly after eating. These are expected and should improve over time. Try to eat small amounts of your favorite foods throughout the day. It is important to get enough calories and protein to prevent weight loss and promote healing.

    Can I shower?

    Yes, you can shower when you get home. Taking a warm shower is relaxing and can help decrease muscle aches. Use soap when you shower and gently wash your incision. Pat the areas dry with a towel after showering, and leave your incision uncovered (unless there is drainage). Call your doctor if you see any redness or drainage from your incision.

    Do not take tub baths until you discuss it with your doctor at the first appointment after your surgery.

    When is it safe for me to drive?

    You can’t drive while you’re taking pain medications. Talk with your doctor about when you can resume driving.

    What exercises can I do?

    Exercise will help you gain strength and feel better. Walking is an excellent form of exercise. Gradually increase the distance you walk. Ask your doctor or nurse before starting more strenuous exercises.

    When can I lift heavy objects?

    Check with your doctor before you do any heavy lifting. Normally, you should not lift anything heavier than 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) for at least 6 weeks. Ask your doctor how long you should avoid heavy lifting.

    When is my first appointment after my surgery?

    Your first appointment after surgery is usually 1 to 2 weeks after you leave the hospital. Your nurse will give you instructions on how to make this appointment, including the phone number to call.

    How can I cope with my feelings?

    After surgery for a serious illness, you may have new and upsetting feelings. Many people say they felt weepy, sad, worried, nervous, irritable, and angry at one time or another. You may find that you cannot control some of these feelings. If this happens, it’s a good idea to seek emotional support.

    The first step in coping is to talk about how you feel. Family and friends can help. Your nurse, doctor, and social worker can reassure, support, and guide you. It’s always a good idea to let these professionals know how you, your family, and your friends are feeling emotionally. Many resources are available to patients and their families. Whether you’re in the hospital or at home, the nurses, doctors, and social workers are here to help you and your family and friends handle the emotional aspects of your illness.

    What if I have other questions?

    If you have any questions or concerns, please talk with your doctor or nurse. You can reach them Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

    After 5:00 pm, during the weekend, and on holidays, call 212-639-2000 and ask for the doctor on call for your doctor.

    • A temperature of 101° F (38.3° C) or higher
    • Redness or drainage from your incision
    • Any sudden increase in pain or new pain
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Diarrhea (loose or watery bowel movements)
    • Constipation
    • Any problems or questions about your JP drain
    • Any new or unexplained symptom
    • Any questions or concerns
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    MSK Resources

    Anesthesia
    212-639-6840
    Call with any questions about anesthesia.

    Blood Donor Room
    212-639-7643
    Call for more information if you’re interested in donating blood or platelets.

    Bobst International Center
    888-675-7722
    MSK welcomes patients from around the world. If you’re an international patient, call for help arranging your care.

    Chaplaincy Service
    212-639-5982
    At MSK, our chaplains are available to listen, help support family members, pray, contact community clergy or faith groups, or simply be a comforting companion and a spiritual presence. Anyone can request spiritual support, regardless of formal religious affiliation. The interfaith chapel is located near the main lobby of Memorial Hospital, and is open 24 hours a day. If you have an emergency, please call the hospital operator and ask for the chaplain on call.

    Counseling Center
    646-888-0200
    Many people find that counseling helps them. We provide counseling for individuals, couples, families, and groups, as well as medications to help if you feel anxious or depressed.

    Integrative Medicine Service
    646-888-0800
    Integrative Medicine Service offers patients many services to complement traditional medical care, including music therapy, mind/body therapies, dance and movement therapy, yoga, and touch therapy.

    Look Good Feel Better Program
    800-227-2345
    Learn techniques to help you feel better about your appearance by taking a workshop or visiting the program online at www.lookgoodfeelbetter.org

    Patient-to-Patient Support Program
    212-639-5007
    You may find it comforting to speak with a cancer survivor or caregiver who has been through a similar treatment. Through our Patient-to-Patient Support Program, we are able to offer you a chance to speak with former patients and caregivers.

    Patient Billing
    646-227-3378
    Call Patient Billing with any questions regarding preauthorization with your insurance company. This is also called preapproval.

    Patient Representative Office
    212-639-7202
    Call if you have any questions about the Health Care Proxy Form or if you have any concerns about your care.

    Perioperative Clinical Nurse Specialist
    212-639-5935
    Call if you have any questions about MSK releasing any information while you’re having surgery.

    Private Duty Nursing Office
    212-639-6892
    You may request private nurses or companions. Call for more information.

    Resources for Life After Cancer (RLAC) Program
    646-888-8106
    At MSK, care doesn’t end after active treatment. The RLAC Program is for patients and their families who have finished treatment. This program has many services, including seminars, workshops, support groups, counseling on life after treatment, and help with insurance and employment issues.

    Social Work
    212-639-7020
    Social workers help patients, family, and friends deal with issues that are common for cancer patients. They provide individual counseling and support groups throughout the course of treatment, and can help you communicate with children and other family members. Our social workers can also help refer you to community agencies and programs, as well as financial resources if you’re eligible.

    Tobacco Treatment Program
    212-610-0507
    If you want to quit smoking, MSK has specialists who can help. Call for more information.

    For additional online information, visit LIBGUIDES on MSK’s library website at library.mskcc.org. You can also contact the library reference staff at 212-639-7439 for help.

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    External Resources

    Access-A-Ride
    web.mta.info/nyct/paratran/guide.htm
    877-337-2017
    In New York City, the MTA offers a shared ride, door-to-door service for people with disabilities who are unable to take the public bus or subway.

    Air Charity Network
    www.aircharitynetwork.org
    877-621-7177
    Provides travel to treatment centers.

    American Cancer Society (ACS)
    www.cancer.org
    800-ACS-2345 (800-227-2345)
    Offers a variety of information and services, including Hope Lodge, a free place for patients and caregivers to stay during cancer treatment.

    Cancer and Careers
    www.cancerandcareers.org
    A comprehensive resource for education, tools, and events for employees with cancer.

    CancerCare
    www.cancercare.org
    800-813-4673
    275 Seventh Avenue (Between West 25th & 26th Streets)
    New York, NY 10001
    Provides counseling, support groups, educational workshops, publications, and financial assistance.

    Cancer Support Community
    www.cancersupportcommunity.org
    Provides support and education to people affected by cancer.

    Caregiver Action Network
    www.caregiveraction.org
    800-896-3650
    Provides education and support for those who care for loved ones with a chronic illness or disability.

    Corporate Angel Network
    www.corpangelnetwork.org
    866-328-1313
    Offers free travel to treatment across the country using empty seats on corporate jets.

    Gilda’s Club
    www.gildasclubnyc.org
    212-647-9700
    A place where men, women, and children living with cancer find social and emotional support through networking, workshops, lectures, and social activities.

    Good Days
    www.mygooddays.org
    877-968-7233
    Offers financial assistance to pay for copayments during treatment. Patients must have medical insurance,meet the income criteria, and be prescribed medication that is part of the Good Days formulary.

    Healthwell Foundation
    www.healthwellfoundation.org
    800-675-8416
    Provides financial assistance to cover copayments, health care premiums, and deductibles for certain medications and therapies.

    Joe’s House
    www.joeshouse.org
    877-563-7468
    Provides a list of places to stay near treatment centers for people with cancer and their families.

    LGBT Cancer Project
    http://lgbtcancer.com/
    Provides support and advocacy for the LGBT community, including a online support groups and a database of LGBT friendly clinical trials.

    LIVESTRONG Fertility
    www.livestrong.org/we-can-help/fertility-services
    855-744-7777
    Provides reproductive information and support to cancer patients and survivors whose medical treatments have risks associated with infertility.

    National Cancer Institute
    www.cancer.gov
    800-4-CANCER (800-422-6237)

    National Cancer Legal Services Network
    www.nclsn.org
    Free cancer legal advocacy program.

    National LGBT Cancer Network
    www.cancer-network.org
    Provides education, training, and advocacy for LGBT cancer survivors and those at risk.

    Needy Meds
    www.needymeds.org
    Lists Patient Assistance Programs for brand and generic name medications.

    NYRx
    www.nyrxplan.com
    Provides prescription benefits to eligible employees and retirees of public sector employers in New York State.

    Partnership for Prescription Assistance
    www.pparx.org
    888-477-2669
    Helps qualifying patients without prescription drug coverage get free or low-cost medications.

    Patient Access Network Foundation
    www.panfoundation.org
    866-316-7263
    Provides assistance with copayments for patients with insurance.

    Patient Advocate Foundation
    www.patientadvocate.org
    800-532-5274
    Provides access to care, financial assistance, insurance assistance, job retention assistance, and access to the national underinsured resource directory.

    RxHope
    www.rxhope.com
    877-267-0517
    Provides assistance to help people obtain medications that they have trouble affording.

    The Ostomy Association 
    www.ostomy.org

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