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FAQ's

1. What is TPN or PN?
2. What is hydration therapy?
3. Where do I stay when I come to St. Paul's Hospital for HPN training?
4. Can I stay in a private or semi-private room when I come for HPN training?
5. Where can my out-of-town family stay when I come for HPN training?
6. Can I go out on day passes when I come for HPN training?
7. Where do I get my supplies?
8. Can I travel on the BC HPN program?
9. How do I travel to the BC HPN clinic?
10. Can I go swimming if I'm on PN?
11. Can I still exercise?
12. What is a venting G-tube?
13. Who do I call if I have a problem with my PN?
14. What do I do if I'm admitted to a hospital?


1. What is TPN or PN?
Total parenteral nutrition (TPN), also known as parenteral nutrition (PN), is a solution containing protein, carbohydrate, fat, electrolytes, vitamins and minerals. The solution is infused directly into the blood stream. It is used when a person does not have a functioning gut or gastrointestinal tract, and may not be able to eat or may not be able to absorb all that they eat.

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2. What is hydration therapy?
Hydration therapy is the infusion of fluid directly into your blood stream. It is used when you are unable to meet your fluid needs by mouth and may be used in addition to your PN solution.

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3. Where do I stay when I come to St. Paul's Hospital for HPN training?
When you are being trained on how to administer HPN, you will stay at St. Paul's Hospital as an inpatient. Our Program Coordinator will arrange for you to stay in a bed designated for HPN training whether you are already a patient at St. Paul's Hospital, you transfer to St. Paul's from another hospital, or you come from home.

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4. Can I stay in a private or semi-private room when I come for HPN training?
There are a small number of private and semi-private rooms at St. Paul's Hospital. These rooms are often occupied by patients who are very sick and at high risk of spreading and/or contracting an infection.

If you would like a bed in a private or semi-private room, you can let the unit clerk on your ward know this. There is an extra cost to stay in a private or semi-private room when it is not medically required. Some extended health care plans cover the cost of a private or semi-private room.

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5. Where can my out-of-town family stay when I come for HPN training?
Learning how to administer HPN often means that our team trains not only you, but also your spouse and/or a family member. St. Paul's Hospital does not allow spouses or family members to stay overnight in their loved one's hospital room.

There are many hotels nearby to the hospital. Check out the Accommodation Guide for information on hotels both downtown and outside of the downtown core. Most hotels listed in the Guide will give a discount if you say your loved one is a patient at St. Paul's Hospital.

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6. Can I go out on day passes when I come for HPN training?
Yes, day passes can be provided for the weekend daytime if you are: medically well on TPN overnight ("nocturnal TPN"), and not on daytime TPN, intravenous medications or intravenous fluids.

Day passes are not available for the weekday daytime because this is when you will learn how to safely administer your parenteral nutrition for home. Day passes are not available for the evenings or overnight stays because you will have your TPN running during these times.

You can discuss the option of day passes with our medical team once you have been admitted to St. Paul's Hospital for training.

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7. Where do I get my supplies?
All of your HPN solutions and supplies will be supplied by Calea, our supply company. The team will make arrangements for your supplies when you are discharged from the hospital. Once home, it is your responsibility to order supplies every two weeks. You can order from Calea by calling 604-294-1500 ext. 5.

Please note that the BC HPN Program does not pay for any non-HPN supplies. This includes supplies you may need for your ostomy, fistula and non-HPN medications requiring a needle or syringe for intravenous, subcutaneous or intramuscular administration.

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8. Can I travel on the BC HPN Program?
You can travel while on PN! Please know that you are responsible for all aspects of your trip. It does require some planning and there are some restrictions, so make sure to give the BC HPN Program lots of notice before you make any travel plans. Read this travel booklet for more information about travelling with PN. Please note that you are responsible for all costs above and beyond what the BC HPN Program would normally pay for while living at home.

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9. How do I travel to the BC HPN Clinic?
If you live outside of the Lower Mainland, you will need to travel to Vancouver to get to your clinic appointments. The Travel Assistance Program (TAP) helps alleviate some of the transportation costs. TAP BC is for eligible BC residents who must travel within the province for non-emergency medical specialist services not available in their own community.

Please visit TAP BC for information about the Program and how your doctor can obtain a TAP form to fill out for you.

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10. Can I go swimming if I'm on PN?
As there is no evidence that swimming has caused a central venous catheter (CVC) infection, many HPN programs allow their consumers to swim once their catheter site is healed. Check with the BC HPN Program first to make sure it is safe for you. The Oley Foundation has more information about swimming with a CVC here.

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11. Can I still exercise?
Most consumers can return to their normal exercise routine. Check with your doctor before you start or resume an exercise regimen. You will need to gradually increase your exercise activities. You may find that you can do more since your last illness or you may feel more limitations than before you started on HPN. You can do most activities, just avoid contact sports.

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12. What is a venting G-tube?
A venting Gastrostomy tube, or G-tube, is a tube inserted through an opening in your abdomen that goes into the stomach to drain off fluids and/or gasses. This tube is not for eating. It is for venting, or drainage, to help with nausea and vomiting. A G-tube is inserted because there is a blockage that alters the way food and/or fluid travels through your stomach and bowel. Read this venting G-tube booklet for more information.

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13. Who do I call if I have a problem with my HPN?
If you have any problems or questions related to your HPN or CVC you should call your HPN nurse or dietitian at 604-806-9353 during regular business hours. If it is an emergency you should go directly to the nearest emergency room.

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14. What do I do if I’m admitted into a hospital?

Adult HPN Patient:

1. Notify the BC HPN Program: In order to ensure the best care possible for HPN patients, and to facilitate a smooth admission and discharge, we encourage other hospitals to notify the BC HPN Program whenever HPN patients are admitted to their facility. We also ask that when you are admitted to another hospital, you remind the admitting hospital to inform us of your admission. The HPN program contact information is on your wallet card – present this card when you arrive to any emergency department.

2. Notify Calea: Call the Calea customer service number to inform them that you have been hospitalized. They will stop any deliveries until they are notified that you are ready to be discharged back to your home. Calea can be reached at 604-294-1500 ext. 5.

3. Do not bring your bags of PN solution into the hospital to be used during your admission. The hospital should provide you with PN. In some cases, you may be asked to bring in your PN solution from home.

4. Provide the BC HPN Program with sufficient notice prior to your discharge home. Depending on your condition, the health care team in the hospital might make changes to your PN solution while you are there.  It is important that these changes are communicated to the BC HPN Program dietitian. Also, it is important that we have enough notice to ensure your solutions are made and delivered to your home before you leave the hospital - this might take up to 5 to 7 business days.

Pediatric HPN Patient:

1. Bring your child’s care binder to the hospital: It is crucial to regularly update your child’s care binder. An updated binder contains all the medical and nutritional information required to ensure a smooth admission. The care binder should include your child’s last HPN prescription along with its BC Children’s Hospital equivalent, an updated list of medications, and any other relevant information (contact information, ethanol lock volumes, updated feeding plans, etc.).

2. Notify the Complex Feeding and Nutrition Service: In order to ensure the best possible care for your child and facilitate a smooth admission and discharge, we encourage you to notify the Complex Feeding and Nutrition Service.

  • If your child is admitted unexpectedly over the weekend to BC Children’s Hospital, please ask for the GI physician on-call to be contacted.
  • If your child is admitted to another hospital, please remind them to inform us of your child’s admission at 604-875-2345 local 5886 or 1-888-300-3088 local 5886.

3. Notify Pediatric General Surgery: If your child is on HPN as a result of severe intestinal impairment requiring a surgical procedure, we encourage you to notify your child’s surgeon in order to ensure the best possible care for your child and facilitate a smooth admission and discharge.

  • If your child is admitted unexpectedly over the weekend to BC Children’s Hospital, please ask for the General Surgeon on-call to be contacted.
  • If your child is admitted to another hospital, the Complex Feeding and Nutrition Service will notify your child’s surgeon.

4. Notify Calea: Contact the Calea customer service representatives to inform them that your child has been hospitalized. They will stop all deliveries until they are notified that your child is ready for discharge. You can reach Calea at 604-294-1500 ext. 5.

5. If your child is admitted after the PN Pharmacy has closed, you may be asked to use your child’s HPN solution until the next day. However, the hospital will provide your child’s PN for the remainder of the admission. Your child’s HPN bags should not be used.

6. If your child is admitted to hospital other than BC Children’s Hospital: Provide the Complex Feeding and Nutrition Service with sufficient notice prior to discharge. Depending on your child’s condition, changes to your child’s PN solution might be made during the admission. It is important that these changes are communicated to the Complex Feeding and Nutrition Service dietitian. Also, it is important to give enough notice to ensure the solutions are made and delivered to your home before you leave the hospital - this might take up to 5 to 7 business days.

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