Your role on the stem cell transplant team
You have an important role on your child's health care team. We want to help you in any way we can, and we depend on you to communicate with us. Here are some tips to help us work together.
- Be sure to ask questions. Bring a list so you do not forget any questions and be sure to clarify all information during your clinic visit.
- When you call, let us know whether or not your call is an emergency. If it is not an emergency, your call can be sent to a clinic nurse or nurse practitioner, who will return your call as soon as possible. If it is an emergency, the receptionist will locate a nurse to speak with you immediately. The inpatient charge nurse is always available after hours and on weekends.
- Always make an appointment with our receptionist, whether your child needs an office visit or blood work. Parents often assume that because the doctor or nurse practitioner said "we'll see you next Monday," they have an appointment. To get on the schedule for next week, you must talk to the appointment staff. The appointment desk phone number is: 832-826-0870. Unscheduled visits create problems and may cause delays in your child being seen.
- Hand-washing. Hand-washing is essential for good health. Your child should wash his/her hands before eating, after using the bathroom, after playing outside and any time he/she has touched a dirty object. It is also important for family and friends to wash their hands often. Commercial antibacterial soap is adequate to use. Your child should not share towels when bathing and hand drying. You should change his/her towels every 2-3 days.
- Isolation. Your child will be in "social isolation" until his/her immune system recovers. Social isolation means that you restrict contact with other people which may have an infection. This means your child should not go to any crowded places such as the grocery store, church, school, movie theaters, or restaurants. If a family member is ill, keep your child away from them as much as possible. During your clinic visit you may ask your doctor or nurse practitioner what activities and places would be safe for your child.
- Wearing a Face Mask. Wearing a face mask is not a guarantee against infection, but it may help guard against bacteria and viruses from other people. Your child will be given a special hepa-filtered mask. Your child must wear this mask when he/she is visiting the outpatient clinic or going out in public. Your child does not have to wear the mask at home, while riding in the car, or when outside in open spaces.
- Checking Temperatures. Your child's temperature should be checked if he/she feels ill, chilled, shivery or "hot". You are the expert on your child, and subtle clues that only you can pick up may be important. If your child has recently eaten or had a drink, within the last 30 minutes, do not take his/her temperature in their mouth. Any temperature of 100.5F or higher should be reported to the doctor immediately.
- Caring for the Central Line Catheter. Your child may still need his/her central line catheter after discharge so medicines and blood products can be easily given. The catheter is a direct line into your child's blood stream and it is important to prevent it from becoming infected. You will be taught on how to care for your child’s catheter. Any redness, tenderness, or drainage from the catheter site should be reported to the doctor immediately.
- Cuts and sores. Treat all cuts and sores carefully by washing them thoroughly with soap and water. Apply a topical antibiotic cream, such as Neosporin, or Polysporin and leave it open to air. If any sore becomes painful, red, swollen, or draining, call your doctor. Do not pop any blisters.
- Immunizations. Your child may not receive any immunizations until approved by your SCT doctor. One year after transplant, your doctor or nurse practitioner will discuss your child's immunization schedule with you. Siblings should receive regularly scheduled immunizations. Your child can not live in the same house with someone who has received the live oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) for 30 days after the immunization. Ask your doctor or nurse practitioner about any vaccines your other children may need. Avoid contact with persons who have been exposed to chicken pox or shingles. If your child is exposed, notify your doctor immediately. Siblings may receive the varicella vaccine; however, if the sibling develops a rash after getting the vaccine the patient should be treated as having been exposed to chicken pox. Please call the clinic as soon as possible if this occurs.
- Pets and Plants. You do not need to remove your household plants; however, your child should avoid close contact with them, such as watering them or touching the dirt. Your child may play outdoors, but be sure to wash his/her hands and face thoroughly afterwards. Your child can play with the family pet as long as the pet is healthy. Do not give your child a new pet. Always wash his/her hands after playing with the pet. If you have a cat, your child should avoid contact with the litter box and the cat's stools. Patients should also not play with frogs, turtles or reptiles. Any visits to the zoo should be discussed with the SCT team before going.