Prepare for Surgery
Arrival at Gillette
You must arrive at Gillette 90 minutes to two hours before surgery is scheduled to begin. Your arrival time depends on the procedure being performed. During your preoperative phone call or an earlier in-person visit, a nurse tells you when to arrive.
Please note: The surgery starting time we give is approximate, because we don’t know exactly how long each patient’s surgery will take. If the surgery must be delayed, we’ll let you know.
When you reach Gillette, take the North Elevators (at the east end of the parking ramp) to the third floor. After you get off the elevators, turn left and go to the front desk.
We conduct the check-in process in a check-in room. If several family members accompany the patient, we might ask some to wait in the surgery waiting room during the check-in process. Check-in rooms are fairly small and can easily get crowded as Gillette staff enter to help prepare the patient for surgery. After the check-in process is complete, family members in the waiting room can join the patient and others in the check-in room.
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 patients 18 years of age or older.
We ask you to sign a medical and surgical consent form when you arrive. Read it carefully. Make sure everything on the form is correct. It should include:
- The patient’s name.
- Type of surgery being performed.
The form also verifies that you’ve:
- Talked to a doctor, discussed the risks of surgery, and asked any questions you have about the procedure.
- Agreed to the surgery.
If you don’t understand something on the form, or if you have questions about the surgery, ask to speak with a health care provider before you sign the forms.
When you arrive in the preoperative area, the Perianesthesia staff greets you. We weigh the patient and check temperature, pulse and blood pressure. We also ask the patient to change into a hospital gown.
At this time, a child life specialist can offer toys, crafts or movies to help children having surgery feel more at ease.
Questions for You
For safety reasons, we might ask you many times to provide or confirm some information. Questions might include:
- What’s the patient’s name?
- What’s the patient’s date of birth?
- What kind of surgery is the patient having?
- What part of the body will be operated on?
Skin and Hair Preparation
To help lower the risk of infection:
- We teach the patient and/or family members to wash the body using presurgery skin cloths.
- We ask the patient to put on a warming gown, which is attached to a unit that blows warm air to keep body temperature within a normal range.
- We might wash the patient’s hair shortly before surgery.
Meetings With Surgery Team Members
Before surgery begins, you meet with members of the surgery team.
- The surgeon marks the location on the body where surgical incisions will be made.
- A nurse talks about possible use of tubes, drains and other equipment after surgery.
- The anesthesia team explains how we use anesthesia and pain medicine. They and the surgeon talk with you and decide what methods will be safest and medically most appropriate.
During these meetings, we need to find out:
- How the patient has responded to pain and anesthesia in the past.
- Exactly when the patient last ate or drank anything.
- If you have any concerns.
After surgery team members meet with you, we drift the patient to sleep using anesthesia, which is either inhaled through a mask or given through an IV tube. The anesthesia team decides if the patient’s parent or guardian may be present during this process. If the patient is less than 1 year old, parents and guardians aren’t allowed to be present while we give anesthesia.
After the patient is asleep, family members go to the Surgery waiting area. Shortly after that, we might place a breathing tube. Throughout the surgery, we monitor the patient’s anesthesia use, along with breathing rates and other vital signs.
If the patient needs an IV tube and we haven’t placed it yet, we do so at this time. If using an IV tube, the patient might receive anesthesia, fluids and/or pain medicines through it during and after the surgery.
As a safety measure, just before surgery the surgeon and surgery team take a “timeout” to verify they’re doing the right surgery, on the right part of the body, on the right person. This might happen before or after we use anesthesia to drift the patient to sleep.
Once surgery begins, family members and caregivers may wait in our Surgery waiting room on the third floor. At least one adult MUST remain in the Surgery waiting area throughout the surgery, in case we need to communicate during the procedure.
During surgery, we can call a family member’s mobile phone to provide updates about the patient’s progress. If family members don’t bring phones, we provide a pager to let them know when to call or check with us for new information.
Hospital Room Visit
If the patient is staying overnight after surgery, family members might be able to visit the hospital room while the surgery takes place. There, they can meet with a nurse and drop off belongings.
Food and Beverages
There are several places where you can find something to eat or drink while the patient is in surgery. Hope Express (located on the fourth floor near the skyway), Regions Cafeteria (located on the second floor central section) and Overlook Coffee and Deli (located on the second floor central section) are all good options.
Cell Phone and Wireless Devices
You may use cell phones and wireless devices in the hospital. We provide free wi-fi.
For help finding your way around Gillette, visit the Guest Services desk on the fourth floor.
Shortly after surgery is complete, the surgeon meets with family members, caregivers and others to discuss how the procedure went and how the patient is doing.
Postanesthesia Care Unit (PACU)
The patient goes from the operating room to the Postanesthesia Care Unit (PACU), also known as the recovery room, and stays there until the anesthesia wears off. The length of time spent in the PACU is different for each patient. It can range from 15 minutes to more than an hour. Within 30 minutes of the patient’s arrival there, a nurse provides an update.
In the PACU, nurses provide care as the patient wakes up. After waking, the patient might feel stiff or sore and have a sore throat. We ask how much pain the patient is feeling. (If the patient can’t easily communicate, we strive to assess the level of pain felt.) Nurses then provide comfort by giving medicine and/or offering integrative care services such as aromatherapy, therapeutic massage and music therapy.
Visiting the PACU
We allow parents and/or caregivers to briefly visit the PACU when appropriate. Only two adults (people 18 or older) can visit at one time. We escort visitors in and out of the PACU and give them visitor identification stickers. Visitors might be asked to step out of the room at any time for safety reasons.
PACU visitors MUST:
- Turn off cell phones, tablets and laptop computers.
- Notify a nurse if they have a history of fainting or easily becoming lightheaded.
- Respect the privacy of other patients.
PACU visitors must NOT:
- Wear perfume.
- Bring flowers.
- Bring food or beverages.
When visitors first arrive, they can expect to see the patient connected to a machine that monitors breathing, pulse and blood pressure. The patient might have an IV tube placed and might be wearing an oxygen mask. How people wake up after receiving anesthesia can vary. When visitors arrive, the patient might be awake, sleeping or crying. All those responses are normal.
Same-Day Surgery Patients
After same-day surgery procedures, family members might be reunited with the patient in the same-day surgery area where check-in occurred, rather than in the PACU.
Patient’s Physical Appearance
Visitors might notice temporary changes in the patient’s appearance for a short time after surgery. For example, the face and hands might be puffy due to body position during the procedure. There also might be redness around the patient’s eyes and lips. That’s because we often place protective tape over the eyes and around the mouth to keep a breathing tube in place.