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In general, patients are hospitalized on the Stem Cell Transplant Unit a minimum of four to eight weeks. Depending upon the complications the patient experiences, the length of hospitalization is sometimes greater. Patients who receive stem cell transplants typically stay in Memphis a minimum of 100 days. During the time that the patient must remain in Memphis, St. Jude provides housing at the Target House.
During the stem cell transplant process, patients undergoing autologous transplantation are at lower risk of infectious complications than are those receiving allogeneic transplants. Therefore, recipients of allogeneic transplants are placed on a low-bacteria diet, whereas recipients of autologous transplants are maintained on a regular diet. The clinical nutritionist will meet with the patient and family before the stem cell transplant to explain the diet and review any food preferences. Every effort is made to encourage patients to continue eating and drinking throughout the transplantation process and each patient’s nutritional status is closely monitored on a regular basis. The hospital has room service that allows patients to call the cafeteria to request food that is on their approved diet. However, if the number of calories that a patient consumes orally each day decreases below 50 percent of their daily requirements, the clinical nutritionist, in consultation with the clinical pharmacist and transplant physician, will consider placing the patient on total parenteral nutrition (TPN). Recipients of autologous stem cell transplants are maintained on a regular diet; however, they often need TPN as well.
In all circumstances, patients must wear specially designed masks when they are outside the hospital room - in the hospital hallways, clinic areas or other crowded areas. These masks reduce the patient’s risk of inhaling infectious organisms. In addition, patients are instructed to wear the masks when they are in any public place. Hand washing is crucial and is the primary means of infection control.
The Transplant Clinic is open from 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. Two nurses, one unit clerk, one nursing assistant, and a nurse scheduler staff the clinic. Each day, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and physicians see patients in the clinic. Medications and transfusions are administered in the Medicine Room, which is open from 7:30 am to 11:30 pm every day. An on-call physician is available at all times and can be contacted through the hospital operator at (901) 595-3300.