Information for Family and Friends for the Day of Surgery

This information explains what to expect on the day of your friend or family member’s surgery at Memorial Hospital, Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK)’s main hospital.

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Before the Surgery

After they get to the hospital, we’ll ask the patient to provide contact information for the person who will meet with the surgeon after the surgery. This is the same person who will get updates from the nurse liaison during the surgery. If the patient is having an outpatient procedure, we’ll also ask them to provide contact information for the person who will be taking them home.

Once the patient checks in, they’ll go to the Presurgical Center (PSC) to be examined before their surgery. Sometimes they may need to wait before they’re admitted to the PSC.

In the PSC, a nurse will do a full exam of the patient. When the operating room (OR) is ready, a member of the surgical team will come take the patient into the OR. They’ll get the patient ready for surgery. This can take 15 to 90 minutes. Then, the surgery will start.

To keep patients and staff safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, we may change our visitor policy more often than usual. Visit for the most up-to-date information. Please remember the following:

  • Don’t bring food or drinks into the hospital. Patients can’t eat or drink before their surgery or procedure.
  • If the patient brought any valuables, such as a cellphone, iPod, or iPad, keep them safe for them during surgery.
  • Sometimes surgeries can be delayed. We make every effort to tell you when this happens.
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During the Surgery

Surgery updates

A nurse liaison will keep you updated on the progress of the patient’s surgery. They will:

  • Give you information about the patient.
  • Get you ready for your meeting with the surgeon.
  • Arrange for you to visit the patient in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU).

To contact the nurse liaison:

  • From inside the hospital, you can use a hospital courtesy phone. These are located on the walls all around the hospital. Dial 2000 and ask for beeper 9000. Please be patient because this can take up to 2 minutes.
  • From outside of the hospital, call 212-639-2000. Ask for beeper 9000.
  • Ask the information desk staff to contact the nurse liaison for you.
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After Surgery

Meeting with the surgeon

When the patient’s surgery is over, we’ll call you and ask you to go back to the information desk. They’ll tell you where to go to meet with the surgeon.

After meeting with the surgeon, go back to the information desk and let them know you’ve finished your meeting.

Visiting the patient in the PACU

After surgery, the patient will be taken to the PACU. When patients first get to the PACU, they’re usually sleepy and want to rest. We ask that you wait 90 minutes before calling the PACU to check on the patient. This gives them time to wake up and get comfortable.

If your family member is an inpatient (staying in the hospital), you’ll be allowed a one-time 30-minute visit. This can be coordinated when you speak with the nurse to find the best time for you and the patient.

  • Please wear a mask.
  • Make sure your cellphone is on silent before entering.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (such as Purell®) or wash your hands before entering. There are hand sanitizer stations located throughout the hospital.
  • Don’t bring food or flowers into the PACU.
    • We can store flowers in the flower room (located on the entrance floor of Memorial Hospital) until patients are allowed to have them. Flowers are usually allowed when the patient moves to their inpatient room.

While visiting the patient in the PACU:

  • Speak quietly.
  • Respect other patients’ privacy by staying at the bedside of your friend or family member.
  • If any PACU patient needs special nursing attention, we may ask you to leave or to delay your visit.

The nurse will update you with the plan of care for the patient, such as whether the patient is staying overnight and when they’ll be moved to an inpatient room.

  • If the patient moves to an inpatient room, a staff member will let you know the room number and the phone number to the nursing station on that floor. They’ll also let you know the visiting hours for that floor.
  • If the patient is going home the same day, a responsible care partner must take them home.

We’ll give you a card with the PACU phone number. Please choose 1 person who we should call for updates.

Visit for more information about MSK’s visitor policy.

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