Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) Information for Family and Visitors
If your loved one is having surgery at UPMC Shadyside, here's what to expect.
Surgical Family Lounge
The Surgical Family Lounge is available 24-hours for family and friends of surgical patients. Greeters staff the lounge Monday through Friday, from 4:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
We request that you:
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- Assign a family member or friend to stay in the Surgical Family Lounge until the surgeon calls or comes down after surgery.
- Identify one person to communicate with the surgeon, and the operating room and PACU staff.
- Advise one of our greeters when you enter and exit the lounge, and provide a contact number — such as a cell phone number — where we can reach you.
The surgeon probably told you approximately how long your loved one's surgery should take.
Please remember, surgery may take longer than expected or may be delayed due to emergencies or previous surgeries extending beyond estimated completion time. The operating room staff may call to update you if there is a delay.
There is a communication (tracking) board in the Surgical Family Lounge. This board allows you to know where your loved one is in the surgical process.
Please ask the greeters at the desk if you are concerned with a delay or need more information.
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While You Wait
Below are places in our hospital you may want to visit while you wait. See the greeters for additional services in the Shadyside neighborhood.
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- Cafeteria — Posner Tower, first floor near gift shop
Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. to 4 a.m.
- Chapel — Posner Tower, first floor, across from Surgical Waiting Area
Open 24 hours
- Gift Shop — Posner Tower, first floor, near cafeteria
Hours: Monday through Friday — 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday — 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Hopwood Library — West wing concourse, first floor
Hours: Monday through Friday — 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sundays — Noon to 6 p.m. (closed Saturdays)
- Japanese Garden — Posner Tower, outside hospital's main entrance
Open 24 hours
Speaking with the Doctor After Surgery
Your loved one’s surgeon will reach out to you after the procedure is complete by:
- Calling the Surgical Lounge
- Visiting the Surgical Lounge
- Meeting with you in the second-floor consult room
You should stay in the Surgical Lounge until you speak to the doctor. If you must leave the lounge, please provide our greeters with a number where we can reach you.
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Communicating with the PACU
We understand you are anxious to know when your family member or loved one is out of surgery and how they are doing. However, this is a busy time for the nurse monitoring their progress and getting them settled.
Telephone calls into the PACU
Phone calls are not accepted into the PACU. Incoming phone calls will disrupt the nurse from doing important things and may disturb other patients.
Speaking with the PACU Nurse
- PACU nurses will contact the Surgical Family Lounge within 90 minutes of the patient’s arrival to the PACU.
- A primary contact person should be chosen to speak with the PACU nurse.
- If family is not present at the hospital the PACU nurse will place a phone call to the primary contact person.
Visiting the PACU
We know you are anxious to see your loved one. It can take up to 90 minutes after surgery for PACU staff to care for and prepare patients for visitors.
As soon as your loved one is settled, the PACU nurse will call the Surgical Family Lounge.
Please note: we only allow one visitor at a time and ask that you limit your visit to five minutes.
We limit the number of PACU visitors to:
- Ensure the safety and confidentiality of patients
- Reduce the risk of infection
- Eliminate interruption to staff work flow
Additional visitors may see and speak to patients through video conference between the PACU and Surgical Family Lounge.
Things to know before entering the PACU
- Visitors must be over 14 years old.
- Be sure you feel comfortable in a medical setting and can remain calm when seeing your loved one after surgery.
- Use hand sanitizers as you enter and leave the PACU.
- Do not bring food, drinks, cell phones, or cameras in the PACU.
- Please follow directions from PACU staff. You may be asked to leave the PACU during certain procedures or situations.
The PACU environment
When entering the PACU, you should expect:
- A large room with many patients, IVs, oxygen, monitors, and other medical equipment.
- Noise — monitor alarms, other patients, equipment, staff and patient conversations.
- Activity — x-rays, blood work, personnel and patients coming and going.
Your loved one may:
- Have tubes and drains attached.
- Appear pale, puffy, or swollen.
- Complain of a sore throat caused by a breathing tube inserted during surgery.
- Be shivering (nurses will apply warm blankets).
- Be given pain medication that causes itchiness or sleepiness. Remember, rest is important during recovery. Resting from pain medicine is encouraged and normal.
Don’t worry if you are unable to visit the PACU.
Our nurses are trained to provide the best possible care throughout the anesthesia recovery process and will update you on your loved one’s progress.