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Planning for Surgery - Information Packet and Instructions

We know that having surgery is a significant event. We want to help your family through the process. Here, we provide information about what to expect before, during and after the procedure. While you’re at Gillette, doctors, nurses and other Gillette staff will review important information with you in more detail. You can also ask any of us questions—at any time. We encourage you to be an involved, informed member of the patient’s health care team. If there’s anything you want to discuss or learn more about, please let us know.

We have several ways to help you prepare for the procedure.

Information You'll Receive from Us

Planning for Surgery Preoperative Packet

About five weeks before the procedure, we mail you a detailed preparation guide called Planning for Surgery. Along with the booklet, we include:

  • A letter about hospital arrival time, which includes eating and drinking guidelines for the day before surgery.
  • A Health History and Physical Examination form.
  • An Important Reminder document about skin and hair preparation shortly before surgery.
  • Directions to Gillette.
  • A list of lodging options for people who need accommodations near Gillette during the patient’s hospital stay.
  • Other materials included based on the patient’s needs.

Preoperative Phone Call

About one week before surgery (and possibly at other times), a preoperative nurse calls you to collect and provide important information.

    Other Instructions

    We might provide additional instructions about how to prepare for surgery, based on the type of procedure being performed.

    You Can Contact Child and Family Services


    This department includes social workers, child life specialists and others who can help answer questions and address concerns. We can:

    • Give tours of Gillette to help patients and their families become familiar with our facilities and medical equipment.
    • Discuss needs and concerns related to the upcoming surgery and/or hospital stay.
    • Help you arrange to obtain home care services, transportation and special equipment.
    • Demonstrate how relaxation techniques can help the patient.

    Video - Preparing for Surgery

    Our Preparing for Your Surgery video is also an excellent resource for helping caregivers and children understand what to expect before, during and after surgery.

    Scheduling a Surgery Date

    We recommend an appropriate time period for the surgery, then we work with you to schedule a date that minimizes disruptions for your family.

    When scheduling a surgery date, keep in mind that you might need to schedule time off work and/or away from school. You might also need to arrange care for other family members.

    Health Insurance Coverage

    It’s your responsibility to understand your insurance coverage and confirm whether it covers services at Gillette, including surgery and hospitalization.

    To cover surgery and hospital expenses, many insurance plans must issue a prior authorization before the procedure or hospital stay. To receive prior authorization, you must notify your insurance company about the upcoming procedure or hospital stay before you arrive at Gillette.

    You also must provide Gillette with your current health insurance information so we can process payments from your insurance company.

    For more information, call a Gillette financial specialist at 651-325-2177.

    For patients who can’t make their own medical decisions, a parent or legal guardian must be available on the day of surgery—at Gillette or by phone—to give consent to the anesthesiologist and surgeon. If we can’t reach a parent or legal guardian on the day of surgery, the procedure might be canceled. A legal guardian must show proof-of-guardianship paperwork to give consent.

    For more information, call a preoperative nurse at 651-229-3918.

    Preoperative Physical Examination

    Before surgery, the patient must have:

    • A physical examination (one to 30 days before surgery), performed by the patient’s primary health care provider (the doctor or nurse practitioner seen for general health care).
    • Lab work requested by the surgeon. (Some tests might have to be conducted no more than seven days before surgery.)

    The physical examination helps determine whether a patient is healthy enough to have the surgery. When you go to the appointment, take the Health History and Physical Examination form you received in your preoperative packet. The form identifies the patient’s scheduled procedure(s), along with any lab work the surgeon has requested. Ask the primary health care provider to fill out the form and fax it to Gillette at 651-726-2643. Also, bring copies of the completed form to Gillette on the day of surgery.

    Female patients who are age 12 or older or who’ve started to menstruate should have a pregnancy test no more than seven days before the surgery. The test can occur during the preoperative physical examination. If the test hasn’t occurred before the patient arrives at Gillette for surgery, we do the test here.

    For more information, call a preoperative nurse at 651-229-3918.


    When we schedule surgery, we ask about medicines the patient takes. Sometimes, a patient must wean off (stop taking) medicines before surgery. The time it takes to wean off a medicine can vary. The patient might need to start the process one week before surgery, several months in advance, or somewhere in between.

    For more information, talk to a clinic nurse or the health care provider who prescribes the medicine(s).


    It is important that we know of the patient's allergies. These might include the following:


    Gillette is a latex-free facility, but it’s still important to tell us if the patient has a latex allergy or has ever had a severe reaction to latex.


    Be sure to tell us if the patient is allergic to eggs. That might affect what type of anesthesia we use.

    Other Allergies

    Tell us about any other allergies the patient has.

    For more information, talk to the patient’s nurse.


    As you prepare for surgery, think about how the patient and family members respond, emotionally, to stress. If you’re concerned about fears, behavior or expectations related to the upcoming surgery, contact the patient’s primary health care provider or call Child and Family Services at 651-229-3855.

    We can point you to resources that might help reduce anxiety. Our child life specialists can provide emotional support and take toys and movies to the preoperative waiting area before the surgery begins. Child life specialists also can meet with a patient’s siblings to address their feelings and concerns.

    There are other ways to help make a patient’s surgery experience easier:

    • Talk to the patient about why surgery is necessary. Ask if the patient is afraid. Reassure the patient that you’ll work with our staff to minimize discomfort.
    • Encourage the patient to bring a favorite toy, photo or other items that can help provide comfort. If packing for a hospital stay after surgery, encourage the patient to select favorite clothes and personal items.

    Medicines for Anxiety

    Be sure to tell us if the patient takes medicine for anxiety. The anesthesiologist determines if it’s safe to give the medicine shortly before surgery.

    Presurgical Patient Assessment and Risk Evaluation (PrePARE)

    If the patient has respiratory problems, nutrition issues, or other medical conditions that could affect recovery, the surgeon might recommend our Presurgical Patient Assessment and Risk Evaluation (PrePARE) program. For some patients, PrePARE helps prevent complications from arising after surgery.

    PrePARE begins with an evaluation at least 12 weeks before the scheduled procedure. The PrePARE team then works with the patient’s surgeon and primary health care provider to address health issues in ways that might help the patient avoid a prolonged hospital stay or an extended recovery time.