Jefferson University Hospitals

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you tell me a little about the Infusion Center?

The Center features spacious, light-filled treatment bays, individual flat-screen TVs and relaxing décor. There are 20 reclining chairs in the unit along with chairs for anyone who may have accompanied you. There are curtains around each unit that can be used for privacy.

The Infusion Center tends to be cold. We can provide blankets if you are feeling chilly or feel free to bring a blanket from home if it will make you feel more comfortable.

Laptops and cell phones are permitted and can provide instructions on how to connect to the Internet through our Hospital Wi-Fi system, Jeff Guest.

Can I bring a family member with me?

On the day of treatment, we encourage you to bring one family member or friend with you. Depending on the length of treatment and medication administered, you may be too tired to drive home. Please understand that many of our patients are at an increased risk for infection from viruses due to compromised immune systems. It is for this reason that a strict policy has been implemented that no children under the age of 16 may be permitted in the Infusion Center unless they are receiving treatment themselves.

Am I allowed to eat before treatment?

There are no restrictions on what you can eat on the day of treatment and you can eat anything during the treatment process. You can bring in your own food or eat what is provided by the Infusion Center. We have snacks, juices, coffee, tea and sodas available at all times and sandwiches are available at lunchtime.

There are also many places outside of the Infusion Center where you may purchase food.

Am I allowed to take my medications on the day of treatment?

If you are taking any prescription medications for any conditions, you are permitted to take those on the day of treatment unless your oncologist has instructed otherwise. If you are unsure, contact your doctor.

Where can I park?

Valet parking is available on 10th street between Market and Chestnut Streets in the Rothman Building. The cost of parking is dependent upon the length of stay. Your parking ticket will be validated at the end of your stay and costs can range anywhere from $2.00 to $4.00. You may also self-park in the Laz Parking Garage on 10th and Chestnut Streets.

What is the check-in process at the Infusion Center?

Upon arrival you will check in on the 2nd floor. At the reception desk, you will see a computer monitor and you need to enter your name in the computer and take a seat in the waiting room. If you have any questions on how to do this, one of the receptionists can help you.

Within a short time, someone will call your name and you will be asked to verify your identity and contact information some questions and asked to provide copies of insurance cards, referrals if needed and any co-pays to complete your registration. Once you have completed the registration process, you take a seat in the waiting room until your name is called to have your lab work done. If you do not have a port, you will be brought back to have a phlebotomist or nurse draw your blood.

If you do have a port, you will be taken into the Infusion Center to have your labs done via your port by an assigned registered nurse.

If you are seeing your physician on the same day of your treatment, you will do that after your labs have been drawn. The physician offices are located on the 3rd or 4th floors.

Once you have completed your physician visit, you will come back to the Infusion Center where you will be seated and treatment will begin.

What lab work will I need done?

Your physician will order blood work to be drawn prior to each treatment to ensure that your lab values are within range to proceed with treatment. Labs will either be drawn from our highly skilled phlebotomists or by a registered nurse if you have an infusaport.

Once the labs are drawn and sent to the lab, it will take approximately 60 to 90 minutes for your physician to get the results. We encourage: You can ask your doctor to have your lab work done several days prior to treatment to avoid the wait time and to speed up your treatment process.

How long can I expect my treatment to take?

The length of your treatment is dependent on the type of chemotherapy your physician has ordered based on your type of cancer.

On your first visit, your chemotherapy is mixed specifically for you and your type of cancer at our onsite pharmacy. The pharmacist does not start mixing the chemotherapy until they receive a checklist from your assigned nurse.

This checklist contains your lab results and weight, which needs to be a certain range for you to receive treatment. If the lab values and weight are acceptable, the pharmacist will mix the therapy. This process can take approximately 30-60 minutes depending upon the type of chemotherapy you are receiving.

Overall you can expect to be there anywhere from an hour to several hours.

Will I need an IV to receive treatment?

When you come in for your treatment a registered nurse will be assigned to you. They will determine whether you require an IV or if you have a port that needs to be accessed.

What happens if I miss my appointment?

If you miss your appointment, please be sure to notify your physician so you can be rescheduled for another time. Please contact your physician’s office directly to reschedule.

What if I am running late for my appointment?

If you are running late, please notify the front desk. The telephone number is 215-955-8874. You will not be cancelled but you may be delayed in being seated.

How many times will I need to receive chemotherapy treatments?

Your physician will discuss your treatment and determine how often you will need to receive treatment. Depending upon your type of cancer, a chemo cycle could be every week, every two weeks or every three weeks.

What is a Complete Blood Count (CBC)?

This is a lab value that helps your physician determine if you are able to receive treatment. It looks at your white blood count, hemoglobin (the protein molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body's tissues and returns carbon dioxide from the tissues to the lungs.) and platelets (important for blood clotting). If any of these values are extremely low, treatment may be delayed and you will be rescheduled in a week or so to give your counts time to recover.

If your white blood count is too low, you may receive an injection that will boost your count to prevent you from developing an infection or your physician may put you on antibiotics. If your hemoglobin level or platelet count are too low, you may require a blood transfusion.

Where do I go for blood transfusions if I need one?

If you need a blood transfusion because of a low hemoglobin level or platelet count, a blood specimen is drawn and sent to the Blood Bank so that they can match your blood type.

Once your blood type is matched, a bag is prepared and we are notified that it’s ready. Your physician may order pre-medication (Tylenol or Benadryl) prior to the infusion to avoid a possible blood transfusion reaction. Typically the doctor will order 2 units.

This entire process can take up to 4 hours.

What if I have a problem after I get home?

If you have any issues after you receive your treatment please call 215-955-8874 and you will be directed on what to do.

If it is an emergency, please call 911 immediately or go to the nearest hospital.

What are the side effects of chemotherapy?

You may experience some side effects after receiving your treatment. The most commonly reported symptoms are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, peripheral neuropathies, and fatigue. Before your treatment begins, you will be given anti-nausea medications, which will help you during your stay.

It’s important to remember that everyone is different and you may experience none of these effects, some or all. It’s important to share the side effects with your physician who may be able to help you manage the side effects with medications. If your symptoms are severe, please contact your physician immediately.

Also, the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine offers an Integrative Cancer Care Program that provides complementary therapies such as vitamins, special diets, herbs and acupuncture that may help with some of your symptoms.

You also have access to oncology social workers who are trained in individual and family therapy and are available to meet with you to assist with the psychosocial impact of cancer treatment, and can provide a valuable link to available community resources.

I understand I may lose my hair after treatment. Where can I purchase a wig?

Jefferson's Wig Program for Cancer Patients was created to help ease the stress and/or embarrassment of sudden hair loss experienced by our patients. If you are being treated for cancer, either as an inpatient or an outpatient at Jefferson, and you have hair loss, we are happy to provide you with a free synthetic wig, turban or hat.

To make an appointment, place call Patient Services at 215-955-7777 or 5-7777 (from inside the Hospital).

Here at Jefferson, we want our patients to be as educated and informed as possible when it comes to their cancer care. We suggest you bring a list of questions and a notepad to ensure you get the most information possible during your visit with us. Some frequent questions asked of our radiation oncologists about cancer include:  

  • What type and stage of cancer do I have?
  • How will radiation therapy help me?
  • How does radiation therapy work? Is it internal or external?
  • How many and how long will I receive radiation treatments?
  • What are the chances that radiation therapy will work?
  • What is the chance that the cancer will spread or come back if I do not have radiation therapy?
  • Will I need chemotherapy, surgery or other treatments?
  • How can I expect to feel during treatment and in the weeks following radiation therapy?
  • Can I drive myself to and from the treatment facility? 
  • Will I be able to continue my normal activities? 
  • What side effects may occur from the radiation? 
  • Will radiation therapy affect my ability to have children? 
  • What are some of the support groups I can turn to during treatment?

What is minimally invasive thoracic surgery, & why is it sometimes preferable to traditional "open" procedures?

Minimally invasive thoracic surgery is surgery through small incisions (and sometimes without incisions) and without the use of rib spreading. In addition to being less painful for patients, this approach also allows for early recovery and is as effective as traditional procedures.

Does insurance usually cover minimally invasive thoracic procedures?

Yes, most insurance plans cover minimally invasive and robotic thoracic surgery.

Are there are any disadvantages to minimally invasive thoracic surgery?

No. Minimally invasive surgery will be performed by your surgeon only if it is as effective and safe as the traditional open procedure.

What surgical procedures do you offer to diagnose or treat lung cancer?

Jefferson's Thoracic Surgery Program performs several procedures designed to diagnose and treat lung cancer:

  • Diagnosis – flexible bronchoscopy, mediastinoscopy, endobronchial ultrasound, fine needle biopsy
  • Treatment – minimally invasive lobectomy or lung resection (such as VATS lobectomy), open traditional lung resection

What surgical procedures do you offer to diagnose or treat pleural diseases?

Procedures to diagnose and treat pleural disease involve inserting a small camera in the pleural space and removing fluid and/or biopsying the pleural surface.

What surgical procedures do you offer to diagnose & treat esophageal cancer?

Jefferson's Thoracic Surgery Program offers many procedures designed to diagnose and treat esophageal cancer:

  • Diagnosis: flexible esophagoscopy, endoscopic ultrasound
  • Treatment and palliation: insertion of esophageal stents, photodynamic therapy of esophageal cancer, minimally invasive esophagectomy (removal of esophageal cancer with small incisions), open esophagectomy, transhiatal esophagectomy 

What surgical procedures do you offer to diagnose & treat reflux?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease – also known as GERD – is a very common condition. Many patients complain of heartburn and regurgitation of food. It is diagnosed with this set of common symptoms. We may add a few tests to the diagnosis of reflux, such as monitoring of esophageal pH (which measures how much acid the esophagus is exposed to). Most patients with reflux will be treated with medication. Occasionally, when the medication stops working, a surgical treatment may be needed. At Jefferson, we offer surgical treatment of reflux without incisions. This is called endoluminal fundoplication, and is done by endoscopy without any cuts on the skin. This is a leading-edge procedure that may help many patients overcome reflux without traditional surgery. If you do not qualify for this, you may qualify for a minimally invasive repair of your reflux.

What surgical procedures do you offer to diagnose & treat achalasia?

Achalasia is diagnosed with esophageal manometry – a type of endoscopy that measures the pressure at the valve between the esophagus and the stomach. In patients dealing with achalasia, this valve is tight. Jefferson's Thoracic Surgery Program offers a minimally invasive procedure to relieve the tightness of the valve. Most patients undergoing this procedure return home in 24 hours.

What surgical procedures do you offer to treat diseases & disorders of the thymus?

Jefferson's Thoracic Surgery Program is at the forefront of robotic surgery for the treatment of thymic disorders, such as thymoma. The robot allows us to replace an invasive median sternotomy (cutting of the breast bone) in most patients. With three half-inch incisions, we can take care of most thymic conditions, including thymoma.

What surgical procedures do you offer to treat myasthenia gravis?

A significant number of patients with myasthenia gravis benefit from the removal of the thymic gland. The traditional way of doing this surgery is through a median sternotomy (cutting of the breast bone). Through Jefferson's Thoracic Surgery Program, we perform the same surgery using three half-inch incisions and the robot – allowing for significantly less pain and faster recovery.

When is surgery a good option for someone who has excessive sweating?

Patients experiencing sweaty hands (palmar hyperhidrosis), sweaty armpits (axillary hyperhidrosis), sweaty face (facial hyperhidrosis) and facial blushing (facial rubor) may greatly benefit from surgical intervention.

What procedure(s) do you perform to address hyperhidrosis?

We perform endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy. These procedures typically take about 25 minutes.

Is hyperhidrosis performed on an inpatient or outpatient basis?

We perform this as an outpatient procedure. Most patients leave the Hospital less than 6 hours after surgery.