St. Jude staff members understand that love and support from family and friends are essential to helping your child adjust to being in the hospital. Even so, we need you to follow the hospital’s visiting guidelines to protect the health and the safety of your child and all St. Jude patients. The following is a shortened version of the visiting guidelines. For a more complete list, see the notebook you received during your first few days at St. Jude.
- Parents or primary caregivers may stay with their children 24 hours a day, because they are not considered visitors.
- Many St. Jude patients have weak immune systems. Visitors should not enter the hospital if they are sick or have been exposed to illnesses that are easy to spread (contagious).
- Please follow all posted guidelines for using masks, gowns and gloves.
- Clean your hands each time you enter or leave a patient room.
- The number of parents and other visitors must be limited to three (3) for the Hematology-Oncology Inpatient Unit and two (2) in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Stem Cell Transplant Unit and the Ambulatory Care Unit (ACU). The air cleaning system can do a better job when fewer people are in the room.
- Many patients make friends at St. Jude; however, for the health of each patient, inpatients should not visit other inpatient rooms. Also, outpatients should not visit the inpatient units.
- Only one (1) caregiver at a time may stay overnight in the inpatient room. This person can be a sibling, age 15 or older. Siblings younger than 15 may stay overnight in the parent room if the parent is present.
- For your child’s safety and your comfort, you may not sleep on the floor.
- Friends and family members 12 years old and older may visit your child. Please talk to your doctor or nurse if you think it is important for someone younger than 12 to be with your child. Before younger children can visit your child, they must be screened for illness.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital follows national vaccination guidelines, including those recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Infectious Disease Society of America, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, and supports vaccination for vaccine-preventable diseases, including the seasonal flu. Vaccinations protect people from highly contagious diseases and serious infections that could cause life-threatening problems.
Children with cancer are immune suppressed from their underlying disease or cancer treatments. As a result, it is difficult for them to fight infections, even if they had up-to-date vaccinations prior to their cancer diagnosis. Immunosuppressed children may not be able to receive certain live, attenuated virus vaccines, such as oral polio, smallpox, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), chickenpox, rotavirus, and nasal flu (influenza) vaccines, while receiving cancer treatment. For these reasons, it becomes even more important that siblings and adults who live with a childhood cancer patient are vaccinated following pediatric and adult vaccination schedules to minimize the chances of exposing the immune suppressed child to a vaccine-preventable disease. It is safe and important for household contacts to receive the MMR vaccine as per the national vaccination guidelines.
For an immune suppressed child, the risk of infection from a live, attenuated virus vaccine is small compared to the risk of infection from exposure to someone with a vaccine-preventable disease. It is still recommended for your immune suppressed child:
- To avoid contact with a person who has a rash after recently receiving the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine.
- To avoid contact with a person who has received a intranasal flu vaccine within one week. This applies only if your child is severely immune suppressed such as in the hospital after a recent bone marrow transplant There is no similar risk with the inactivated, injectable flu vaccine.
- If a household contact (infant) has recently received rotavirus vaccination, all family members should wash hands thoroughly and frequently after contact with the vaccinated infant, especially when changing diapers.
- Household contacts not receive the Oral Polio Vaccine. Note that the oral polio vaccine is not used in the United States
In addition to ensuring siblings and family members are vaccinated, St. Jude recommends its patients avoid exposures to adults and children with suspected or proven infectious illnesses; for example, those with fever, rash, cough, runny nose, and diarrhea.
Consult your child’s healthcare team for any related question that you have.