Patient and Visitor Information
- Patient Rates, Fees & Billing
- Patient Privacy
- Patient Registration
- Payment of Account
- Scent Free Policy
- 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
For patients being admitted, there are three types of accommodation. Your health insurance coverage may dictate the type of accommodation available to you:
- Ward – 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)
The semi-private and private rooms are available on a first come first served basis. If the accommodation of your choice is not available on admission, you will be notified as soon as it becomes available. In some cases, private rooms are required for medical reasons and these patients receive top priority when rooms are being allocated.
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.
Discharge from Hospital
When you are ready to leave the hospital, your physician will advise you 24 hours in advance, so that you can make arrangements for transportation home. On your day of discharge, please be prepared to leave by 10 a.m. Please be sure you have all your possessions before leaving the hospital. If you have to wait for a ride and it is past your discharge time, you may be asked to leave your room and wait in a waiting area, so the room can be prepared for the next patient. Meals will not be served once you have been discharged.
If you are going home by ambulance, you will be discharged when your ambulance travel has been confirmed.
Planning for Discharge
he Discharge Planning Department is available to discuss future plans for patients and their families who may have continuing care needs after discharge. For more information about this service, please speak to a nurse or call the Discharge Planning Department. Case Managers can assist patients and families with referrals to community-based programs such as Community Care Access Niagara (Homecare), Meals-on-Wheels, Lifeline, etc., and arrangements/applications for alternate living accommodations, such as Retirement Homes, Long Term Care Facilities, and other available settings. Call Ext. 44464 or Ext. 53174 to access this service.
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 Nursing 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.
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.
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.
Patient & Visitor Parking
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
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.
We have planned close to 1,500 parking spaces at the new St. Catharines Site and will be developing a flex lot to accommodate any additional demand on new services. NHS has also implemented a traffic management plan which encourages the use of alternate transportation including, public transit, carpooling and a dedicated cycling lot and shower facilities for staff. Bike racks are available at all entrances. The attached map explains our parking at the new St. Catharines Site.
Parking will soon be gated at Niagara Falls, Niagara-On-The-Lake, Welland, and the new St. Catharines Site; Port and Fort to remain pay & display. The Niagara Health System in January 2013 increased parking rates for patients, staff and physicians across all of its sites to become more in line with what other hospitals are charging and to increase revenues to offset expenses. Visitor rates will increase in April.
The new rates are as follows:
- $2.00 per ½ hour
- $4.00 per 1 hour
- $8 maximum per 12 hours
- $40.00 per 1 week (7 days)
- $80.00 per month (31 days)
- Staff - $22.00 bi-weekly
All parking revenues go directly toward patient care by funding our programs and services.
For more information, email our parking office or call 1-888-783-7275.
Payment of Account
Payment for crutches, canes, splints, ambulances, etc. should be made at time of discharge to the hospital’s Business Office, open during office hours Monday to Friday (except for holidays). At Douglas Memorial and NOTL Hospital Sites, payments are made at Patient Registration during weekday office hours, and at all hospital sites on weekends.
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.
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.
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 Nursing Unit who will immediately contact Security.
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.