Welcome to Altoona Regional Health System
Because our patients are our primary concern, we are committed to offering quality and compassionate health care by providing for your physical, spiritual, emotional and social needs.
At our health system, we work together as a team to provide for your comfort and well-being. We hope this guide will familiarize you with our procedures and diversified services, and will help make your visit with us comfortable and pleasant.
In order to get your valuable opinion on whether we are meeting your expectations, we conduct random telephone surveys after you use our services. If you are contacted, please take a few minutes to answer the questions. We use your comments and suggestions in our continual effort to exceed your expectations. All information is kept anonymous and confidential.
You are welcome to speak with a representative from our Customer Service department anytime during your stay or visit by calling 889.2393.
An electronic comment card is also available on our Web site. Please click here.
Rest assured that all of us at Altoona Regional will strive to provide you with excellent care and service during your time with us.
For your comfort and convenience
Special services for you
To meet your spiritual needs
Healthy Living Club
For your safety
Private-duty nurses and private-sitter fees
Medical Records (Health Information Management)
FOR YOUR COMFORT AND CONVENIENCEAdmission/Accommodations
During your admission process, our personnel interviewed you to verify insurance information and personal data. This information is required for our hospital records, as well as to assist the various hospital departments in serving you. You were asked to sign several forms to authorize medical treatment while you are hospitalized.
The hospital offers a choice of private and semiprivate rooms. While we will try to honor your preference, alternative arrangements may be necessary due to your physician’s orders or hospital requirements. Any request for changes in room accommodations will be honored if beds are available. There will be a nominal fee for such changes. This charge is not covered by your insurance plan.
What to Bring When You Come to the Hospital
Please bring only a few personal items for your stay: toiletries (such as toothpaste, toothbrush and deodorant), nightclothes, sweater, robe, and non-skid footwear. If you wear eyeglasses, please bring a protective case.
Your doctor will prescribe the medications you will need during your hospital stay. If you are already taking medicine, please bring it with you to the hospital.
What Not to Bring
The hospital cannot be responsible for money or other valuables kept in the room. Please leave valuables such as jewelry and money at home, or send them home with members of your family. If you must bring valuables, leave them with hospital police for safekeeping. They will be put in the hospital safe until your discharge.
Bedside Call System
Your bed and bathroom are equipped with an electronic call system. If you need assistance, simply push the call button as your nurse demonstrated. This will turn on a light above your door and at the nurses’ station. Your call will be answered through the intercom or in person.
Nutrition plays a very important role in your recovery, and your physician has ordered the best diet for your needs and your physical condition. Each day, someone from Nutrition Services will visit you or call to obtain your menu selections. However, if this isn’t possible due to a late arrival or the scheduling of tests, please call 889.2351 to choose your menu. Any visitor who would like to eat with a patient in his/her room may purchase a guest tray.
Call Nutrition Services for information.
Lost and Found
Lost and found on the Altoona Hospital Campus is in the Police department, E-4, near the All Faiths Chapel. Call 889.2121.
Because we care about your health, Altoona Regional has pledged to maintain a smoke-free environment. Please respect our smoke-free policy as an extension of our dedication to the health of this community.
Designated smoking areas are outside the buildings.
Telephones are available in every room to make and receive calls, except for critical care. Relatives and friends may call you directly by dialing the seven-digit number on your telephone. Incoming calls cannot be received after 10 p.m. or before 7:30 a.m.
To make an outside call: For local calls, dial 9 + the seven-digit number.
All long-distance calls must be made collect or charged to a credit card or your home phone. Patient room numbers may not be used for billing. If you have any problems or questions, dial “0” and the hospital operator will assist you. (Note: You cannot have phone charges added to your hospital bill.) To make a call within the hospital: Dial the four-digit extension of the department or person you want.
SPECIAL SERVICES FOR YOUVolunteers
Nearly 650 hospital volunteers served more than 83,000 hours last year. Volunteers provide valuable services for our staff and patients. Volunteering your time to help friends and neighbors is very rewarding. If you want to join our volunteer team, call Volunteer Services at 889.2151.
Also, if you need anything from our volunteers during your stay, call extension 2151.
Case Management helps patients and their families cope with the impact of illness in their lives. Services include discharge planning for post-hospital care, counseling, information and referral to community health and welfare services. Case Management performs all utilization review activities as required by law and licensing organizations. The Case Management team includes nurses, social workers and secretarial support staff.
For deaf and hearing-impaired patients, a video conferencing interpretation system that uses American Sign Language, called Deaf Talk, is available. For those who need special accommodations due to speaking a foreign language, telephonic interpreting is available. Case Management team members can be reached at extension 2256 (889.2256 from outside the facility).
TO MEET YOUR SPIRITUAL NEEDSPastoral Care is available to persons of all faiths. We believe in the worth and dignity of every person and respond to the diverse faith needs of all people. During a hospital stay, your faith can be a great source of healing and comfort. A person’s spiritual well-being strongly influences the body’s ability to heal, and a positive emotional attitude helps clinical treatments.
All Faiths Chapel, Altoona Hospital Campus
The All Faiths Chapel, on the fourth floor of the Tower, is available to patients and visitors of all faiths for meditation and prayer. Services are held regularly according to the schedule posted on the bulletin board near the chapel.
How to Contact Pastoral Care
Patients, their families and staff may request a Pastoral Care visit seven days a week, 24 hours a day, simply by pressing “0” for the operator and asking that the chaplain on call be paged. A caring chaplain is available day or night.
HEALTHY LIVING CLUBThe Healthy Living Club is a free health and wellness program for adults of all ages.
Although Altoona Regional’s Healthy Living Club is for anyone 18 and over, the 55-plus generation is entitled to enhanced benefits through our Gold Club option. Gold Club entitles members to all of the regular advantages plus discounts at the cafeteria and gift shop.
Call 889.2630 or 888.313.4665 for information or to request an application, or click here.
FOR YOUR SAFETYCell phones may be used in “safe areas,” such as waiting rooms, nonpatient areas and elevator lobbies. Cell phones are not to be used in patient rooms. They interfere with and disrupt the operation of medical equipment. Also, do not bring in or use appliances that plug into wall outlets (fans, radios, televisions, heating pads/blankets). Most battery-powered devices (radios, CD players, shavers) are permitted. Please check with your nurse first.
Visitors are asked NOT to bring in latex balloons. Latex exposure may cause serious allergic reactions in those who are sensitive. Mylar balloons are permitted. Thank you for helping us maintain a safe environment for patient care.
BLOOD SERVICESAny blood you receive while hospitalized is provided through voluntary donations by the citizens of this community participating in the American Red Cross Greater Alleghenies Region blood program.
Of course, you also have the option to predonate your own blood (autologous blood donation) for use at the time of surgery if you are eligible. A written request from your physician is necessary to initiate this process. No charge is made for the blood itself by the hospital or Red Cross. The charge that appears on your hospital bill is to reimburse the hospital for laboratory testing and the amount paid to Red Cross for expenses incurred in collecting, processing and distributing the blood.
The hospital laboratory maintains a blood bank. Specialized technicians work in this area to type, cross-match and obtain blood and blood components for you as ordered by your physician.
FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTSWe are happy to help you with financial arrangements. Altoona Regional recognizes many types of insurance and other medical care payment programs. Please present your insurance or other identification cards at the time of service.
If You Have Health Insurance
Your health care insurance is a contract between you and your insurance company. We cooperate fully with you by filing your insurance claim as a courtesy; however, you are responsible for your account. Usually, we will need a copy of your identification card. You will be asked to assign benefits from the insurance company directly to the hospital. Amounts not covered by insurance will be billed to you for final payment. If you anticipate a problem in arranging for payment, please ask to speak to a customer service representative in the Business Office.
All patients should familiarize themselves with the terms of their insurance coverage. This will help you understand the hospital’s billing procedures and charges.
If You Are a Member of an HMO or PPO
Your plan may have special requirements, such as pre-certifications for certain tests or procedures. It is your responsibility to make sure the requirements of your plan have been met. If your plan’s requirements are not followed, you may be financially responsible for all or part of the services rendered in the hospital. Some physician specialists may not participate in your health care plan and their services may not be covered.
If You Are Covered by Medicare
We will need a copy of your Medicare card to verify eligibility and to process your Medicare claim. You should be aware that the Medicare program specifically excludes payment of certain terms and services such as cosmetic surgery, some oral surgery procedures, personal comfort items, hearing evaluations and others. Deductibles and copayments are the responsibility of the patient, unless information on a supplemental policy is provided.
If You Are Covered by Medicaid
We will need a copy of your Medicaid card to verify eligibility and to process your claim. Medicaid also has payment limitations on a number of services and items. Some outpatient/inpatient services require a referral from your primary care physician. Please have this referral when you come for admission.
If You Have No Insurance
Financial counseling is provided from the Business Office to patients who need financial assistance for the care they receive and have no other financial resources to pay for medical services. Alternative payment programs are available, which include Medical Assistance application preparation by Healthcare Receivables Specialist Inc., a company subcontracted by the health system to complete and file Medical Assistance applications.
The Business Office is also available to set up interest-free payment programs for patients who want to handle their accounts through a budget program. It is the policy of Altoona Regional to extend charity care to patients who are found to be financially indigent.
Payment arrangements can be made on existing accounts. Call the Business Office to set up a payment plan or for information at 889.2333 or 800.443.4050.
Occasionally, some charges are not received in the Business Office until after you are discharged and the initial bill is sent, thus resulting in an additional bill being sent to you or your insurance company. We do, however, endeavor to keep this to a minimum.
Physician and Ambulance Fees
Physician fees for professional services during your visit are separate from the bill provided by the hospital. Likewise, ambulance services are billed separately from the hospital bill.
HOSPITAL CHARGESThe established charges are based on the cost of equipment, supplies and operational expenses. Daily services include your room, nursing care, bedside meals, housekeeping, laundry, building and maintenance, administration and medical records.
Additional charges must be made for services ordered by your physician, such as X-rays, laboratory tests, medical supplies, drugs, oxygen and other special diagnostic and therapeutic services.
PRIVATE-DUTY NURSES AND PRIVATE-SITTER FEESSince these personnel are not employed by the hospital, all arrangements for payment and employment must be made directly by the patient or family or representative. Special-duty nurses and sitters are called at the request of your physician. Limitations are placed on the clinical responsibilities of private-duty personnel. The overall care of the patient remains the responsibility of hospital staff.
SPECIAL SERVICESPlease tell the registration office or your nurse if you have a hearing, speech or sight impairment because special accommodations are available.
Also, interpreters are available in sign and some foreign languages. Case Management coordinates interpreter services. Call 889.2782 or 889.2256.
ETHICSThe Ethics Committee at Altoona Regional provides guidance and assistance to hospital staff, patients and families in dealing with ethical issues that arise in today’s medical environment.
This committee, comprised of health care workers, educators and community and religious leaders, is available to offer advice and counsel to patients and their families on life-and-death issues, such as the use of feeding tubes, “do not resuscitate” orders and removal of a patient from a respirator. If you would like to know more or meet with the committee, please call 889.2223.
VISITORS INFORMATIONFood services
The cafeteria is on the fourth floor of the hospital Tower, directly across from the main visitor elevators. Visitors are welcome to use the hospital cafeteria. Hot meals are served weekdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch and 4 to 6:30 p.m. for dinner. A variety of beverages and “Grab and Go” items (breakfast items, salads, sandwiches, desserts) are available weekdays from 8 to 10:30 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. and weekends from 2 to 4 p.m.
For your convenience, a Subway restaurant is located in the main lobby (Outpatient Center, first floor). It is open 24 hours.
Vending machines (sodas and snacks) are located on the 2nd, 8th and 12th floors of the Tower; Outpatient Center floors 1 (Emergency department), 6 and 7, and the lobby on the 4th floor of E Building.
Wireless access available
Altoona Regional offers free wireless Internet access on the Altoona Hospital Campus and at the Surgery Center. Patients and visitors can log on through our “Guest” network using a laptop, game console, PDA, cell phone or MP3 player.
The Gift shop is operated by the Friends of Altoona Regional Health System. All proceeds are returned to the hospital to benefit patients.
There are a great number of gifts, from baby items and collectables to fresh flower arrangements. To go along with these gifts, we have personal-care items, balloons, magazines, books and puzzle books, newspapers, cards, candy, cold drinks and snacks. The Gift shop is on the first floor of the Outpatient Center across from Subway. Gift Shop hours are: Monday- Friday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. Closed on Sundays. For more information, call 889.2080.
As a community service, our hospitality houses are available to accommodate family members of patients. In addition, Altoona Regional has rate and service agreements for patient families with the Courtyard by Marriott Altoona, 2 Convention Center Drive, Altoona, 312.1800, and Hampton Inn, 180 Charlotte Drive, Altoona, 941.3500. Contact Altoona Regional police at extension 2121 (889.2121). For the safety of your friends and relatives, visitors are not permitted to spend the night in cars or other motor vehicles on any hospital lot.
Mail and flower delivery
Mail is delivered to your room daily. Mail received after you’ve been discharged is forwarded to the home address on record. Flowers/plants are not permitted in Critical Care or patient rooms designated as “Protective Environment.” In other areas of the hospital, the florist or a volunteer will bring them to your room. Your friends and relatives can ensure that you receive mail by addressing it to:
Altoona Regional Health System
Altoona Hospital Campus
620 Howard Ave.
Altoona, PA 16601
VISITING GUIDELINESWe believe that visiting should be flexible and patient-controlled.
Although rest is an important part of your treatment, visits from friends and loved ones are part of your therapy, too. Please visit only from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and limit bedside visitors to no more than three at one time.
Before surgery, members of the immediate family may visit briefly before the preoperative medication is administered. Members of your immediate family may visit after surgery but must first check with the nurse. While awaiting your return from surgery, family members may be seated in the surgical reception area, where they will be notified of your progress.
Palliative Care Unit: Visiting hours are unlimited with no age limitation. Families may spend the night with the patient.
Maternity: Unlimited visitation for fathers or other identified support person. 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for grandparents and siblings only, and 1 to 8 p.m. for the general public, grandparents, siblings and children over 13. No children under 12 are permitted to visit unless they are siblings of the newborn. Anyone with signs and symptoms of infection should not visit.
Pediatrics: Unlimited visitation for parents/guardians and grandparents. One parent/guardian or grandparent may stay from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. Siblings and peers may visit with prior approval from the nurse in charge. Open visiting hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Only three visitors are permitted at a time.
Behavioral Health Inpatient Unit, 3rd Floor, G Building: Visiting is from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. daily. Special times can be arranged by the treatment team. No one under 16 is allowed to visit. Only immediate family may visit adolescent patients. Friendships can be created among patients and it is our policy that former patients cannot visit until three months after being discharged unless allowed by a psychiatrist (per standard operating procedure).
Our Critical Care facilities are specially designed for the short-term critical, trauma or postoperative patient needing constant observation. They do not replace the recovery room, where patients who have undergone surgery are cared for until they have recovered from the anesthetic. Nurses assigned to Critical Care have been educated in coping with critical medical situations and are highly skilled in the use of state-of-the-art lifesaving equipment.
Intensivists (physicians who specialize in critical care medicine) make rounds in the hospital’s ICUs daily and are available 24/7 to the medical and surgical-trauma ICUs.
Patients are admitted and discharged from Critical Care upon order of the attending physician.
To aid in the patient’s healing, we allow unlimited visiting hours. Two visitors at a time are permitted in the patient’s room. There is a waiting area outside the unit for occasions when we ask you to step out of the room. One member of the patient’s family should be selected to inquire about the patient and inform other relatives and friends of the patient’s progress.
Families are encouraged to choose a code word to use when asking about the patient.
Preventing Infections: What Can You Do?
We promise to wash our hands when caring for you to ensure a safe environment while you are here. If we don’t, please remind us.
Hand washing is the single most effective thing we can all do to prevent the spread of germs.
While you are in the hospital, you may be placed on “special precautions,” which may be taken because of a known or suspected infection. This does not always mean a patient has the disease. Special-precaution patient rooms are designated by a color-coded sign at the entrance. Staff and visitors may be required to wear gowns, gloves and masks in your room. Visitors who refuse to comply will be asked to leave the facility directly after their visit. They should not make any other stops in the hospital after leaving your room (i.e., stopping at vending rooms, the cafeteria, gift shop, etc.).
Additional measures may be used depending on the specific type of special precautions you may be on. Educational materials are available from your nursing team.
It is very important to protect all of our patients from infection. Without proper precautions, germs can easily spread among patients, visitors and staff.
DISCHARGE PROCESSBeing discharged from the hospital depends on many things. Discharge is a step-by-step process. Your primary care doctor and consulting physicians decide when it’s appropriate for you to go home. Typically, the doctor tells you or your family the day before discharge is expected. The final discharge decision isn’t made until the doctor sees you the next day.
Doctors visit at various times during the morning, afternoon or evening. Please ask the doctor what time he/she expects to see you, but understand that he/she may be delayed.
When you come into the hospital, you will be asked to provide the names and phone numbers of two people who would be available within two hours to pick you up and take you home upon discharge. On the day of your discharge, your nurse will tell you what activities need to take place prior to you being able to leave the hospital and the time that you can expect to be discharged. You can then notify your driver. This will help avoid having a family member wait for a long time.
Before leaving the hospital, you must have an order for discharge from your physician. Nursing personnel are not authorized to dismiss you without your doctor’s permission.
The doctor will conduct a final examination. He/she may order additional tests, review those results, and then decide if you are able to leave. The doctor writes the discharge order, but consulting physicians involved must agree. Many other things then take place. Arrangements for therapy, prescriptions and equipment often need to happen before you leave. For example, your doctor may want you to talk with a member of our education or dietary staffs. This will help you recover. The nurse will review the doctor’s directions with you.
We encourage you and your family members to take an active part in the discharge instruction process and to ask questions when you are unsure. Each patient’s situation is different. Case Management works closely with patients and families to coordinate discharge needs. Please allow time for this to happen. Predicting an exact discharge time is often difficult. If family circumstances make discharge difficult during a particular time of day, please talk to your nurse.
We would appreciate your making plans to leave your room as soon as possible after your doctor has approved your discharge from the hospital so we may prepare your room for another patient.
MEDICAL RECORDS (HEALTH INFORMATION MANAGEMENT)For information regarding the processes and policy/procedures for releasing medical records, please call 889.7753.
For information on or a copy of the HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practice regarding patient rights, contact Patient Access at 889.2236. This notice describes how medical information about you may be used and disclosed and how you can get access to this information.
If you have any questions or complaints, please contact our privacy officer at 889.2223.