Patient and Visitor Information
- Patient Registration
- Payment of Account
- Photography and Videotaping
- Preparing for Discharge
- Scent Free Policy
- Security and Surveillance
- Smoke Free Hospital Properties
- Spiritual & Religious Care
- Staff Identification
- Supplementary Insurance
- Transportation Home
- Vending Machines
- Visiting Hours
- What to Bring to the Hospital
- Wheelchair Accessibility
The Niagara Health System offers private, semi-private and ward accommodations to our patients.
- Ward – up to four patients to a room (covered by your provincial health care plan)
- Semi-private – two patients to a room (additional charge)
- Private – one patient to a room (additional charge)
Please indicate your room preference when you register with the hospital. Every effort will be made to provide you with the room type that you have requested. Please note, however, that room assignments are based on bed availability and medical necessity of our patients.
Provincial health insurance (OHIP) covers the costs of a ward room only. Some insurance policies cover semi-private or private room charges, or you may wish to pay personally for additional room costs. Unfortunately, the hospital cannot check your insurance coverage, so please verify your insurance coverage in advance with your employer or insurance provider.
If you have any questions on semi-private and private room charges, you may call the Billing Office at 905-378-4647, ext. 32234, or dial 32234 directly from your patient phone.
Please be aware that there is a fee for ambulance services. Patients are responsible for paying $45 per ambulance trip, with OHIP covering the remainder of the fee. Please pay the patient portion at the time of discharge.
If you require assisted transportation home from the hospital, there are private services available. These are wheelchair accessible, but may also be used for patient transfer by stretcher or for someone who can walk but needs assistance. These transportation services usually require 24-hour advance pickup notice. The patient is responsible for payment of this mode of transportation. The Discharge Planning Department can provide further information.
Cafeterias are located at Niagara Falls, St. Catharines and Welland Sites. Varying break time, lunch and dinner services are available.
Coffee Kiosks/Snack Bars
In addition to cafeterias, most NHS hospitals provide coffee kiosks/snack bars with a variety of snack items and beverages.
Dentures are easily lost if placed in a tissue, paper or on the bedside cabinet. Should you remove your dentures, be sure to ask the nurse for a denture cup.
For safety reasons, we must restrict the use of privately-owned electrical appliances. If you are bringing items such as hair dryers, curling irons, or electrical shavers, they must be checked and safety certified by our Engineering Department prior to use. Please discuss this with your nurse.
Emergency medical care information
Filling out a Personal Emergency Information Card and carrying it with you will help you be prepared in the event of a health emergency. This card can be printed and folded to fit in a wallet.
Personal information is critical in a health emergency, especially when people cannot speak for themselves. Filling out a Personal Emergency Information Card will help emergency responders and hospital personnel to ensure a patient’s treatment is appropriate and respects their wishes. It is important for people to ensure family members and caregivers know where they keep their card and that the content is updated if the information changes.
Our public education campaign, Minutes Count, can also help the public be prepared in a medical emergency. NHS developed this campaign, in partnership with Niagara Emergency Medical Services, to raise awareness about the importance of making the right choice to access the right care when they need emergency medical care. Check minutescount.ca for information about emergency and urgent care services available in Niagara.
Hospital staff members are trained in fire safety and evacuation procedures. In the event of a fire alarm, stay in your room with the door closed and await their instructions. Please follow their instructions carefully. Do not use the elevators until the ‘All Clear‘ announcement has been made over the Public Address System.
Most NHS hospitals have Gift Shops run by hospital Auxiliary members as a main fundraising program. Personal items such as soap, toothpaste and shampoo can be purchased in the Gift Shop. A wide selection of gift items and fresh and silk flower arrangements are also available. Proceeds are donated to NHS hospitals to assist in the purchase of patient-care equipment.
Handwashing to Prevent the Spread of Germs
Stopping the spread of infection can be as simple as a thorough washing of your hands. It remains the single most effective way to control infections.
Here are some tips on how to wash your hands properly:
- Use warm running water and soap.
- Rub hands together briskly for 15 seconds.
- Rinse hands thoroughly and dry with a clean paper towel.
- Use paper towel to turn off the tap.
- Use these tips at home too!
Make sure you wash your hands…
- Before and after visiting a patient.
- After coughing or blowing your nose.
- After using the washroom.
- Before eating.
Waterless hand wash dispensers can be found throughout the hospital.
Infection Prevention & Control
Patient safety depends on good Infection Prevention and Control and our clinical and support staff members are dedicated to ensuring the highest standards are met for our patients.
Information for Family Members
Concern about a family member is natural. We support families and want their help in developing a patient’s treatment plan. It is helpful, where possible, to provide the name and relationship of one individual to serve as the primary contact or spokesperson for your family.
Appointing a spokesperson has several benefits. With fewer people calling for patient updates, it reduces the number of telephone calls to the unit, which makes it easier to get through. It also ensures that all members of the family receive the same information.
The needs of each patient and family are different. The nursing staff is happy to discuss with you the best way to share information with your family.
Interpreter services are available in many languages. Please ask a member of your health care team if assistance is required.
Il servizio de t’aduziore e desponibile in varie lingue. Si prega di domandare ad un impiegato dell’sopedale.
Des services de traduction sont disponibles en plusiers langues. Veuillez vous resèigner aupres d’un mémbre de l’equipe soignante.
Latex Balloon Ban
Latex balloons may cause an allergic reaction in patients and hospital staff. Please inform your well-wishers that they cannot bring latex balloons into the hospital. Mylar balloons are permitted.
Lost & Found
Please check to be sure that you have all your personal belongings with you when leaving the hospital.
Should you leave anything behind, immediately contact the patient care unit where you were a patient to advise them.
Nutritionally-balanced meals are provided three times daily – breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you have nutritional concerns or special dietary needs, please ask a member of your health care team to arrange for a Dietitian to visit you. The hospital does not provide meals to visitors on the patient unit.
Parking for Patients & Visitors
Improvements to parking at St. Catharines Site being made week of September 29
The St. Catharines Site has recently reviewed its parking arrangement and recognized a greater need for improved safety, accessibility, convenience, and barrier-free parking. We have listened to feedback from the community and stakeholders and are making improvements. In addition to providing greater accessibility and safety for patients and visitors, these modifications will serve to keep the fire route unobstructed.
These improvements include the following:
Lot A and Main Entrance
- Moving the current barrier-free parking area in front of the Main Entrance to inside the gated area to Lot A; two barrier-free spots will remain in this location
- Adding an additional 28 barrier-free spots (total of 48)
- Adding two barrier-free and six fifteen-minute drop-off spots in front of the Main Entrance
- Moving the dialysis patient parking spots adjacent to the First Street Entrance
Lot B and Emergency Department Entrance
- Moving seven of the barrier-free spots in front of the Emergency Department Entrance to inside the gated area of Lot B; four barrier-free spots will remain in this location
- Adding four barrier-free spots and seven fifteen-minute drop-off spots in front of the Emergency Department
- Adding 7 barrier-free spots
The changes will occur overnight the week of September 29 (weather permitting). We will have security staff in parking lots helping to direct drivers during the transition. Every attempt will be made to avoid disruption during regular business hours.
The attached map explains our parking at the new St. Catharines Site.
Thank you for your patience while we make these important improvements.
Onsite parking is available at all sites of the NHS. Signage at each location will direct you to park in the lots designated for patients and visitors.
A gated system is now in place at Niagara-on-the-Lake and our three large sites (St. Catharines, Niagara Falls and Welland). We will not be implementing the gated system at the Port Colborne or Fort Erie sites at this time, and we will continue with pay and display at these sites for patients and visitors.
Parking is one of the few areas where we are able to generate revenue. Our revenue generating strategies are a part of our plans to address our financial challenges.
All parking revenues go directly toward patient care by funding our programs and services.
We are harmonizing parking rates for patients, staff and physicians across all of our sites. These rates are below what most hospitals charge.
The current rates are as follows:
- $2.00 per ½ hour
- $4.00 per 1 hour
- $8 for up to 12 hours (no in/out privileges)
- $16.00 Daily Pass (in/out privileges)
- $40.00 per 1 week (7 days)
- $80.00 per month (31 days, to be purchased at the St. Catharines Site)
- Staff - $22.00 bi-weekly
For more information, please email our parking office or call 1-888-783-7275.
*When parking in lots with the gated system, please be sure to take your ticket with you after parking. Do not leave it in your vehicle. When you are ready to leave the hospital, please pay at one of the Precise Parklink kiosks located in the main lobby.
Payment of Account
During office hours Monday to Friday (excluding holidays) payment for crutches, canes, splints, ambulances, etc. can be made at time of discharge to the hospital’s Cashier Office at the Greater Niagara General, St. Catharines, and Welland sites. At the Douglas Memorial, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Port Colborne sites, payments can be made at Patient Registration.
On weekends and holidays payments will be accepted at Patient Registration at all hospital sites.
Alternate Level of Care Co-Payment
If you are in an acute-care unit and your condition changes, indicating that the type of care you now require is longer term due to illness or disabilities, your status will be designated as Alternate Level of Care (ALC). This means that your short-term acute care needs are over and you now have longer-term needs.
In consultation with your health care team, it will be determined whether your longer term needs can be met at home by your family and/or community support, or in a complex continuing care or long term care facility.
The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care recognizes that the day a patient’s condition changes, the necessary resources for placement should be available immediately, but often they are not. Patients already placed in a complex continuing care or long term care facility are expected to pay a co-payment. Thus, the Ministry, to make the system fair and to discourage misuse of beds, established the ALC co-payment. The co-payment is to help cover the cost of accommodation (ward room) and meals.
Patients who are waiting to go home with family and/or community support are not expected to pay a co-payment.
The Ministry sets a maximum co-payment rate on July 1 of each year. All acute, complex care and long term care facilities charge the same rate in the province. The Ministry increases the rate yearly based on the Consumer Price Index for the year.
Patients will pay the maximum co-payment rate unless they qualify for a reduction based on an income test that evaluates the patient’s ability to pay. The Business Office will contact the patient/family to set up an income review and payment arrangements upon the patient’s change of status.
Patient/Client Bill of Rights & Responsibilities
As a Patient/Client I have the right to:
- Take an active role during my hospital care.
- Receive care as quickly as possible.
- Receive compassionate, professional and respectful care in a safe and clean environment free of discrimination and unnecessary restraints.
- Privacy while in the hospital and confidentiality of my health information and record of care in accordance with the law.
- Be kept informed in order to make decisions about my health care, including being advised if an error affecting my health has occurred.
- Give or refuse consent to any proposed care and to be advised of the possible risks and benefits of the procedure or treatment being proposed. I have the right to designate an individual (substitute decision maker) to give consent for me if I am too ill to do so.
- The appropriate assessment and management of pain.
- Know the name and position of any care provider involved in my care.
- Express my questions, concerns or complaints without fear of reprisal and expect the hospital staff or physician to provide a timely response.
- While receiving care at the hospital I can speak to my care provider or request to speak to the person in charge of the department.
- After discharge I can bring my questions, compliments or concerns forward to the Patient Relations Specialist by telephone (905-378-4647 ext 44423), email, or in writing, and upon request can receive a written response to my concerns.
As a Patient/Client I have the responsibility to:
- Provide accurate information relating to my medical and personal history including present and past illnesses, hospitalizations and medications.
- Be actively involved in my plan of care and my discharge and to ask questions when I don’t understand or I require more information.
- Accept the consequences of my actions should I refuse treatment or not follow the treatment plan.
- Be courteous and respectful of other patients, visitors, staff and doctors and for assisting in the control of unnecessary noise and the number of visitors.
- Comply with hospital policies affecting patient care and conduct including supporting the NHS‚ smoke-free and fragrance-free environment.
Patient Fees, Rates and Billing
See the documents here
Patient Privacy – Your Health Information and Your Privacy at NHS
At Niagara Health System, we treat your personal health information with respect and sensitivity and do so in accordance with the Ontario Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA, 2004) and all other applicable legislation.
The people at NHS who provide and support your care are allowed to see your health information. This group includes doctors, nurses, technicians, therapists, and other health professionals who provide care and treatment. Students may also work with your health care team under the guidance of qualified teachers.
For more information about Patient Privacy click HERE.
The Patient Registration Department requires that you bring your Ontario Health Card when you register.
Photography and Videotaping
As a public hospital, the Niagara Health System is responsible for protecting the privacy of all patients, visitors, staff, physicians and volunteers.
The use of audio or video recording devices and the taking of photographs are not permitted on NHS premises without the advance consent of the individuals in question.
Family and friends often bring mobile devices containing built-in cameras with them into the hospital while visiting patients. It is not practical to forbid the carrying of such devices, or, in patient treatment areas, to remove them for safekeeping. However, our staff, physicians and volunteers are obliged to remind patients and visitors that taking photographs, videotaping, etc., without the advance consent of the individuals in question is not permitted.
Please talk to a member of our care team or call our Security Manager at 905-378-4647, ext. 44303, if you have questions.
Preparing for Discharge
The NHS wants to ensure that your admission and discharge go smoothly. When you are admitted to hospital, your healthcare team will begin planning for your discharge to ensure your care needs are co-ordinated before you leave. It is important that the healthcare team has the contact name and all numbers (cell, home) of the one person in your family that we can communicate with.
The nurse, discharge planner or Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) case manager will be involved with you and your family as needed in planning for your discharge from hospital. Decision as to discharge destination will be made in advance by you and your healthcare team so that you and your family are aware of all of the details.
At the NHS, there are many options for discharge or transition when your acute care is complete. You may: be discharged home with or without supports; require additional care and services; transition to another location within the NHS (St. Catharines, Port Colborne, Fort Erie, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Greater Niagara General or Welland, as well as Hotel Dieu Shaver in St. Catharines); or transition to another healthcare setting.
It is important to note that discharge time is 10 a.m. Please make sure your family/friend is aware and ready to pick you up from the unit/front entrance at this time. He/she should bring any necessary items (clothes, shoes, etc.) so that you are comfortable when you leave. If you are transitioning to another NHS site or healthcare setting, transportation arrangements will be made for you by the NHS.
Scent Free Policy
Staff, patients and visitors are requested to avoid wearing perfume, aftershave and other scented personal-care products when they come to the NHS. No strongly scented flowers, please.
Security and Surveillance
Hospital premises and parking at all NHS sites are monitored by electronic surveillance equipment for the protection and safety of our patients, staff and visitors.
Smoke Free Hospital Properties
All hospital properties, including buildings, parking lots and lawns/gardens are smoke-free zones, effective May 31, 2007. No smoking is allowed on the property to reduce the effects of second-hand smoke and to provide a safe and healthy environment. Nicotine Replacement Therapy is available to patients experiencing difficulty managing their nicotine dependency. Please speak to your Nurse or Doctor.
For your security, safety and well being, the hospital prohibits any sales solicitations to patients. If the event that you are approached by a sales agent while in hospital, please notify staff on your patient care unit who will immediately contact Security.
Spiritual and Religious Care
Full-time Chaplains are NHS interdisciplinary team members. They work with patients, families, staff and volunteers.
Professional care goals include:
- healthy, meaningful use of people’s spirituality,
- people’s awareness of meaning and purpose,
- people’s use of their religious traditions, beliefs and practices.
Spiritual and Religious Care Staff also work with area faith communities / congregations in order for appointed visitors (‘ordained’ and ‘lay’) to attend to the spiritual needs of their people in hospital.
All hospital staff related to the operation of the hospital on a day-to-day basis can be identified by their photo identification badge worn while on duty.
If you hold a supplementary insurance policy, i.e. Manulife Financial, Mutual Life, Green Shield, etc., the hospital can bill your insurer on your behalf for costs not paid for by OHIP but covered by your insurance policy.
Please note that if you request Preferred Accommodation (semi-private or private) and your supplementary insurance does not agree to pay for the difference, or only pays a portion of the charge, you are responsible for the full payment of the account. Please check your insurance policy carefully and make sure you are covered. The same responsibility applies to all differential rates, such as those for splints, crutches and canes.
To make sure you have all the information you need regarding your insurance coverage, please find out the answers to the following questions:
- What is your insurance policy number?
- What is the effective date and expiry date of your coverage?
- What benefits are covered? (eg. Semi-private or private accommodations)
- Do you have a deductible? (eg. You must pay the first $50 of charges incurred)
- Do you have a cap? (eg. The insurance will only pay a maximum of $100/day of your semi-private coverage) Is the cap a daily, yearly, or life time limit?
- Are you covered for the services you are receiving? (eg. Maternity, palliative, etc)
You should know the answers to these questions before you sign for your preferred accommodations. If you have signed and are unsure, please check your coverage immediately. Once doing so, if you wish to change your accommodations, inform Patient Registration immediately and they will have you sign a transfer to a lesser accommodation effective of the date of signature. You will be responsible for all charges incurred up to this point.
Payment for services not covered by your insurer should be paid on discharge. Payment can be made by cash, cheque, Interac or major credit card at the Business Office.
A telephone is located at most patient bedsides (with the exception of mental health beds) providing free local calling. Long distance phone calls can be made using a calling card. Pay phones are available throughout the hospital.
If you wish to view regular programming, personal colour television sets are available on a rental basis, with the exception of Niagara-on-the-Lake Hospital Site. Forms and information are located near nursing stations throughout the hospitals. Customer service representatives are available daily, excluding statutory holidays.
Payment may be made by cash, cheque, or major credit card in advance. Please note that patients who are discharged early can be reimbursed for any days owing.
Before you are discharged from the hospital, you will need to arrange your transportation home. We recommend you plan your ride home with family or friends to avoid having to pay for transport services. If you are not able to arrange transportation, the hospital will help you arrange your transport home. You will be required to pay for your transport.
Please note: The hospital cannot hold beds to accommodate delayed travel arrangements.
The Hospital recommends that you keep only a small amount of money at your bedside and send any jewellery, credit cards and large sums of money home with a family member or friend.
The Hospital does not accept any responsibility for the loss or damage of any personal items, including money, eyeglasses or dentures.
Vending machines providing hot and cold beverages and candy are available 24-hours a day in the waiting area of the Emergency Departments. Several Cafeterias feature vending machines which are accessible 24 hours a day.
Providing great patient care means making sure that everyone we serve has the best possible experience. In support of patient client centred care, we have no set visiting hours. Each department will assess their unique requirements in providing timely care and adequate rest for patients, and communicate any specific visiting guidelines to patients and their families.
What to Bring to Hospital
If you are being admitted to stay overnight, you should bring the following:
- Identification that will clearly show your name, address and date of birth, as well as your Ontario Health Card and any additional insurance cards.
- A list of the prescription medications you are currently taking, including inhalers, ointments or drops. If a current list is not available, bring in the actual medications. After they’ve been reviewed by your physician, those not required by the hospital should be sent home with a family member. It is also important to inform your health care team of any over-the-counter drugs and herbal medications you are taking.
- If you received patient education from your doctor or the hospital clinic, please bring it with you. Your clinical pathway booklet will guide you through day-to-day care so you can understand and monitor your treatment plan.
- Hearing aid, if you use one.
- Personal hygiene items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, comb/brush, deodorant, shampoo and tissues.
- Clothing (pajamas/nightgown, robe/housecoat, slippers)
- Please leave your valuables at home. If you cannot do so, cash and valuables will be placed in safekeeping. Hospital staff will place your valuables in a locked cabinet for safekeeping until your discharge.
- If you have been in hospital to deliver a baby, please bring an outfit for your baby, diapers and a car seat.
- Books/magazines, stationery, knitting, etc., or a favourite toy for young patients
Some departments may require you to bring some personal items not included above. These departments will provide you with this information prior to admission.
Barrier Free Entrances:
- Douglas Memorial Site
- Greater Niagara General Site
- Niagara-on-the-Lake Site
- Port Colborne Site
- St. Catharines Site (all entrances)
- Welland Site
Wheelchair-access entrances are available at all hospitals. Please follow hospital directional signage for drop-off and pick-up areas.