Isolation in St. Jude housing


Isolation means having your child stay in a room away from other St. Jude patients. This Do You Know answers some common questions about isolation. If you have more questions, please ask your child’s doctor, nurse, or another person on your child’s care team.

Why does St. Jude isolate patients?

To lower the risk of certain infections. If your child has one (1) of these infections, it could spread to other St. Jude patients. Having your child stay in isolation, away from other patients, lowers the risk of spreading the infection. This is important because some infections can be dangerous, especially to children with weak immune systems from cancer treatment. The immune system is the body’s infection-fighting system. Cancer treatment can keep this system from working normally. Also, the antibiotics used to treat infections do not work well against all of them. So St. Jude staff members want to avoid infection spreading from your child to someone else.

Are there different types of isolation?

Yes. There are 2 main types of isolation in St. Jude housing. They are:

  • Droplet-airborne isolation – For infections that travel through the air from coughing or sneezing, and
  • Contact isolation – For infections that live on surfaces, such as a door or bed. You can only get these if you touch something that has germs on it.

How do I know if my child is in isolation?

Your child’s care team will tell you if your child needs to be in isolation, and what type. If you have questions, please ask your child’s care team. We want to make sure you understand how to keep your child and other St. Jude patients safe.

If my child is in isolation, where will we stay?

Sometimes, you can stay in the same St. Jude housing. But other times, we might need to you to move to lower the risk of spreading infection. The information below explains where you might move, depending on where you are staying currently.

If your child is in droplet-airborne isolation

If your child is in droplet-airborne isolation, she will be in a room with a door that opens to the outside, if possible. This means you and your child can come and go without going through areas with other patients. It helps lower the risk of infection if your child sneezes or coughs, because droplet-airborne infections spread through the air.

In St. Jude housing, Target House has 4 outside rooms. Tri Delta Place also has 4 outside rooms. If an outside room is not available, you and your child will stay in a room or suite at Tri Delta Place or an apartment at Target House.

If your child is in contact isolation

If your child is in contact isolation, she can usually be in a room or suite at Tri Delta Place with a door that opens to the inside of the building. Or you and your child might stay in an apartment at Target House. This depends on the type of infection your child has. Some children in contact isolation need a room or suite with an outside door. If an outside room is not available, you might be placed in a hotel.

If you are currently in an apartment at Ronald McDonald House, you will stay there if your child is in contact isolation. If you are in a room, not an apartment, you will move to Tri Delta Place or Target House if possible. The rooms at Ronald McDonald House share a kitchen. If you use the shared kitchen after spending time in your child’s room, you could spread infection to other patients and families on the kitchen surfaces. This could happen even if you wash your hands and try to stay as clean as possible. The St. Jude staff members want to keep all patients safe from infection.

What rules does my child need to follow in isolation?

When your child is in St. Jude housing, she should stay in her room. Your child must not go to any common areas during isolation. If your child does go into common areas during isolation, we might ask you to leave St. Jude housing and stay somewhere else.

When your child goes to and from her Tri Delta Place or Target House room, she should avoid touching any surfaces, such as walls, counters, or anything else. You and your child should not ride the elevator with any other patients or families.

When your child goes to and from the hospital, she will ride in your car. Or Patient Services will set up rides for you separately from other patients.
You and other family members may leave your St. Jude housing apartment if you need to. But please avoid going to the common areas as much as possible. Before you leave your child’s room, you and other family members and visitors should wash your hands carefully. Wash your hands after you come back, too, before you touch your child or anything else.

My child is not in isolation. Do other children in isolation put my child at risk at Target House?

No. Patients in droplet isolation must wear face masks while walking through Target House to their rooms or apartments. After that, they need to stay in their rooms at all times. We ask everyone staying in Target House not to touch surfaces in common areas, as much as possible.

Sanitizing wipes are on each floor of Target House near the elevator. You can use these to clean the elevator buttons and the railing in the elevator if you touch these areas. Please put these wipes in a trash can when you leave the elevator.

How else can I lower the risk of spreading infections?

Clean your hands and your child’s hands often. Use soap and water or sanitizing gel. Good hand washing is the best way to prevent infection. Read “Do You Know … Clean hands.”

Avoid touching surfaces around you in hallways and elevators. Touching things is the main way to spread infections.

If you or other family members have cold or flu symptoms such as a fever, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, or sore throat, do not visit the common areas in St. Jude housing. Wear a face mask when you walk through the hospital. You can ask for a face mask at your child’s clinic or the front desk of your St. Jude housing.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

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