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Transplant Unit Safety and Infection Control

Handwashing and Waiting Room at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital's In-patient BMT Unit, Memphis, TN

This is a photo of the Handwashing and Waiting Room at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital at the BMT Unit.

The Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Unit (Transplant Unit) has more guidelines than other St. Jude clinical areas. This helps protect transplant patients who have little or no immune system. All patients and families must follow these rules during their time in the Transplant Unit.

Transplant Unit infection control  

  • All family caregivers and visitors are screened for signs of illness before they enter the Transplant Unit each day. 
  • Staff, family caregivers, and visitors must use hand sanitizer or wash hands with soap and water:
    • Each time they enter or leave the Transplant Unit.
    • Each time they enter and leave the patient room. This includes when moving from the parent room to the patient room.
  • Patients who are neutropenic (have a low neutrophil white blood cell count) should wear a face mask when outside their room.
  • Allogeneic transplant patients must wear an N95 mask when they are outside their room.
BMT patient room at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN

This is a photo of a patient room.

Patient and parent rooms

  • Do not allow anyone to use the patient’s bathroom. It is for patient use only, even if the patient is an infant. This helps lower the number of germs in the patient’s room.
  • Patients under 2 years must sleep in a crib.
  • Do not allow the patient into the parent room. The room is built to keep air clean in the patient room.
  • Do not return any food or drink to the Nutrition Center once it has been in the patient room.
Parent room attached to patient room at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN

This is a photo of a parent room, which is attached to a patient room.

Personal items in patient rooms 

  • Limit personal items in the patient’s room. Do not place any items on the floor. The cleaning staff will not move items to clean.
  • Keep non-essential items in the parent room and bring them over to the patient room as needed.
  • Do not bring flowers, live plants, or latex balloons into the patient room.
  • If you bring personal blankets, they must be washed daily.
  • Do not bring stuffed animals, cloth toys, or house slippers with stuffing. Items that have stuffing collect germs easily.
  • Toys or fun items should be easy to clean. Choose items with hard surfaces, such as blocks, plastic dolls, laptops, or hand-held electronic games.
  • Please ask your nurse to call Biomedical Engineering if you bring an item that must be plugged into an outlet. Toys or devices that use batteries or charge by a wall adapter are OK to bring.
  • Return borrowed DVDs to the nurses’ station. The items will be cleaned before the next patient family uses them.

Personal care 

  • Patients should brush their teeth twice a day with the toothbrush provided and use mouthwash three times a day.
  • Use chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) wipes for daily baths to help prevent infection. During a hospital stay, patients with a central line should not have tub or shower baths because of the risk for central line infection.
  • Clean the patient’s bottom and genital area with perineal wipes twice a day as instructed.
  • Patients cannot wear contact lenses, artificial nails, or pierced jewelry while staying on the Transplant Unit.
  • Patients can wear wigs or synthetic hair, but they must be cleaned as one would wash hair. Remove wigs daily to check the scalp. Do not wear the wig if any skin irritation occurs.
  • Patients should not wear makeup or cosmetics until after engraftment.

COVID-19 guidelines

During COVID-19, these guidelines are in place:

  • The Transplant Unit allows 1 family caregiver on the unit at a time.
  • Approved caregivers may take turns staying with the patient. 
  • No siblings or other visitors are allowed.
  • Wear a face mask any time another person enters the patient room.
  • Wear a face mask at all times outside the patient or parent room.
  • Please check with your nurse for current policies.

Transplant Unit visiting rules

  • Visiting hours and other rules can change. Please check with the Transplant Unit for current policies.
  • All caregivers and visitors, including family members, are screened each day for signs of illness.
  • Do not enter the Transplant Unit if you are sick or have been exposed to an illness.
  • Parents and primary caregivers are not considered visitors. They may stay with their child 24 hours a day.
  • Only 1 caregiver me may stay overnight in the patient’s room.
  • Please tell your nurse ahead of time if you plan any change in caregivers. Give at least 24 hours’ notice. This will help staff prepare and possibly train other people to care for the patient.
  • Some vaccines are made from live viruses. These can pose a threat to the health of St. Jude patients. Do not visit the Transplant Unit for:
    • 4 weeks after a smallpox vaccine
    • 7 days after a FluMist flu vaccine
    • 7 days after the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine and until any rash goes away

Siblings and younger visitors 

These guidelines apply only if COVID-19 guidelines are no longer in effect:

  • Siblings must be at least 7 years old to visit. Children must be able to follow infection control guidelines. An adult should help younger visitors wash their hands and make sure their hands are completely clean.
  • Visitors who are not siblings of the patient must be at least 16 years old.
  • There are 2 exceptions to the age limits:
    • Transplant donor: If a sibling younger than 7 years old is the transplant donor, then the sibling can be present for the infusion of the donated bone marrow. Parents and staff should make sure that the sibling wants to attend and feels well enough after the donation procedure.
    • End of life: If the patient is at the end of life, a sibling of any age may visit the patient room at any time and for any length of time.

Transplant Unit and hospital areas

  • Patients must stay on the Transplant Unit during their stay. They may not visit other areas of the hospital.
  • Patients should not visit Transplant Unit common areas except for the Physical Therapy room and play room when allowed.
  • Family caregivers cannot visit other patient rooms.
  • Outpatients and inpatients on other floors should not visit the Transplant Unit.
  • Visitors should not enter Transplant Unit common areas. This includes the laundry room, the Nutrition Center, and play areas. However, parents and caregivers can use these areas as needed.
  • Always watch your children closely while at St. Jude. Do not allow them to roam freely on the Transplant Unit, in the Patient Care Center, in the Chili’s Care Center, or on the hospital grounds.

If you have questions about the guidelines, please talk to your nurse or doctor.

Reviewed: August 2022