Other Important Services and Departments

Blood Donor Center
Most patients who are transfused at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital receive blood units donated by volunteer donors. Some patients or their physicians prefer autologous (self-donated) blood when possible. Occasionally, patients request that they receive blood given by someone they know (directed donors). MedStar Georgetown University Hospital receives its blood supply for transfusions from the American Red Cross community blood center and our other MedStar Hospital Blood Centers.

Volunteer Donors
American Red Cross and our other Med Star Hospital Blood Center donors are volunteers. None are paid for their donations. Donors are carefully screened by a questionnaire approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and each unit of blood is tested for infectious diseases by methods that meet all requirements for the FDA and the American Association of Blood Banks.

Autologous Donation (Self Donated)
Patients who are scheduled for elective surgery have the option of donating their own blood, which is then, if necessary, transfused back to them during or after surgery. Please discuss this option with your physician.

Directed Donations (Family/Friends)
Some patients who are scheduled for surgery or other medical indications for transfusion may want their family member or friends to donate blood for their transfusions. We have no information that blood from family members or friends is safer than blood from our volunteer donors. However, we understand the concerns that some persons have about blood transfusions and will provide this special service for patients who request it. Directed donors must meet strict health requirements. The ideal directed donors are persons who have previously been volunteer blood donors. For more information about our blood services, autologous or directed donor blood donation, please call our Blood Donor Service, at 202-444-5425.

Healthcare Referral
MedStar Georgetown University Hospital has two telephone referral services to assist you in finding physicians, services and information within the Georgetown system. This service is provided free of charge. Staffed by nurses, this service is an invaluable resource for scheduling appointments, finding a physician at Georgetown and health education.

Georgetown M.D.
Nurses assist callers in finding physicians and services within the Georgetown system that meet their personal and medical needs. Georgetown M.D. also informs patients about resources, registers callers for health education and parenting classes and clinical trials, and provides information on medical topics, and prescription and over-the-counter medications. The nurses also assist in scheduling appointments with selected physicians. This free service is available Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Call 202-342-2400 or 866-745-2633.

Lombardi CancerLine
Oncology nurses provide callers with information about cancer research protocols, source information for patients from the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society and act as a resource to identify risk factors and determine ways to reduce cancer risk. The nurses also provide physician referrals and assist with appointment scheduling. Lombardi CancerLine is available Monday-Friday. Call 202-444-4000.

Organ Donation
Transplants of kidneys, heart, pancreas, liver, cornea, bone marrow, bone and skin are no longer experimental surgeries. These procedures are widely accepted forms of medical therapy and are highly successful. However, the number of people waiting for transplants is far greater than the number of people who donate organs. As a result, thousands of adults and children die waiting for their gift of life. MedStar Georgetown University Hospital encourages everyone to sign an organ donor card and to discuss that decision with family members. Discussing and planning for organ and tissue donation while you are in good health can offer comfort and direction for your family if they are faced with the decision. For more information about organ and tissue donation, please call the Washington Regional Transplant Consortium at 703-641-0100.

Pain Management
People used to think that severe pain was something they "just have to put up with." With current treatments, that is no longer true. Today you can work with your doctors and nurses to help prevent and relieve pain.

Why should pain be controlled?
When your pain is controlled, you can prevent needless suffering as well as:

  • Heal faster and feel better sooner
  • Start walking and doing your breathing exercises so you can get your strength back faster
  • Improve your results and avoid problems (such as pneumonia, blood clots and stress)

Pain Management Options
Both medication and non-medication treatments can be helpful in preventing and controlling pain. There are methods used to manage pain. Sometimes two or more methods are combined to get greater relief. You and your doctors and nurses should discuss and decide which methods are best for you.

Are you worried about getting "hooked" on pain medications?
Studies show this is very rare (less then 1%) unless you already have a problem with substance abuse.

Pain Management Methods

Several routes can be used to give pain medication. These include:

  • Oral. Oral pain medications are taken by mouth in pill or liquid form.
  • Injection. An injection is a "shot" of medication given with a needle into a muscle.
  • Transdermal. Skin patches containing pain medication are applied to the skin and used for longer-term pain management.
  • PCA (Patient Controlled Analgesia) Pump. You can control your pain by pushing a button. The pump then safely delivers small doses of pain medication through the intravenous (IV) tube in a vein.
  • Spinal Catheter. A catheter is a small tube placed in your back by the anesthesiologist. The catheter is connected to a PCA pump which delivers pain medication and allows you to give extra doses when needed.

Non-Medication Methods

  • Heat and Cold packs
  • Splinting of an incision
  • Massage
  • Positioning
  • Relaxation
  • Prayer and positive thinking
  • Distraction techniques (such as listening to music, watching TV, reading or visiting)

Communicating your pain
We ask that you help the nurses and doctors to measure your pain. You will be asked routinely to rate your pain in a scale of "0 to 10" (0 means "no pain"; 10 means "worst pain imaginable"). Or, you may choose a "face" from the scale which best describes your pain. You will also be asked if you are experiencing any side effects. Reporting your pain also helps the nurses and doctors know how well your pain management treatment is working and whether to make changes. Use this scale to rate your pain. If you have difficulty rating your pain using numbers, ask your nurse for an alternative pain scale.


0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

No pain Worst pain

It is important that you report uncontrolled pain.

  • Don't worry about being a bother.
  • Pain can be a sign of problems.
  • The nurses and doctors want and need to know about it.
  • Don't automatically assume you need less pain medication because your pain is under control.

Help keep your pain under control. Being prepared helps put you in control. You may want to write down your questions before you meet with your doctor or nurse.

Be sure to:

  • Talk with your nurses and doctors about pain control methods that have worked well or not so well for you in the past.
  • Talk with your nurses and doctors about any concerns you may have about pain medication.
  • Tell your nurses and doctors about any allergies or reactions to medications you have had in the past.
  • Take your pain medication or ask the nurse for pain medication when the pain starts. This is key to proper pain control.
  • Take pain medication prior to getting out of bed, walking, or doing breathing exercises. It is harder to ease pain once it has taken hold.

Let your doctors and nurses know if you are experiencing any problems such as itching, sickness to your stomach, constipation, or that you just don't feel right.

Pastoral Care
As a Catholic and Jesuit hospital, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital is committed to compassionate care of the whole person. To help meet the spiritual and pastoral needs of our patients:

  • Chaplains are available to all patients, family members, and other loved ones regardless of religious affiliation for prayers, spiritual counseling, or support.
  • The Chaplains represent a variety of denominations. The Departmentof Mission and Pastoral Care can help to arrange visits from ministers of other religions and denominations. Patients are also welcome to invite ministers or clergy from their own denominations.
  • A chaplain and/or a Catholic priest are always available on an on-call basis.
  • Communion and the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick are available for patients upon request.
  • The Hospital Chapel is available for personal prayer or meditation twenty-four hours a day. The chapel is located on the first floor of the Main Building near the front entrance facing Reservoir Road.
  • Catholic Mass is offered each weekday at 7:30 a.m. and 12:05 p.m.; Saturdays at 4:00 p.m. (Sunday Vigil) and Sundays at 12:00N and 4:00 p.m.
  • An Ecumenical Prayer Service is held at 12:40 p.m. on Fridays, all are welcome to any of the services.
  • All services are broadcast on closed-circuit TV throughout the hospital on Channel 2. At other times of day, scenes from the Chapel are broadcast with inspirational music.
  • To contact Pastoral Care, call ext. 4-3030 or contact the page operator and ask for the on-call Chaplain.

Protective Services
The hospital has 24-hour security service to assist patients, visitors and employees. Protective Services officers will also assist with minor vehicle problems such as lockouts, etc. If you need to get in touch with Protective Services, dial ext. 4-3840. (See also "Vehicle Safety Services.")

Volunteer Services
GUH Volunteers are a unique group of individuals who provide extra care and support for our patients, families and visitors. During your stay you may meet one of our dedicated volunteers throughout the hospital at concierge desks, waiting rooms and units. Interested in volunteering? If you or anyone you know is interested in becoming part of our volunteer community, please learn more about our volunteer opportunities, or call us at 202-444-5545.

Your Health Care Team
MedStar Georgetown University Hospital is a world-renowned academic medical center, committed to providing the best, most up-to-date patient care available. To do this, we use the skills and expertise of a large health care team, and at the same time, educate the next generation of professionals. You may see students from many of the disciplines listed below. These students are under the direct supervision of a licensed professional. If you have additional questions about the role of students at Georgetown, please ask your nurse or doctor. We encourage and depend on our patients and families to actively contribute to the process of planning and delivering care. Working together, we can offer excellent customized patient care. Here are some of the members of your team:

Medical Staff
Our doctors, residents, advanced medical students are dedicated to working together to ensure world-class diagnostic and treatment care.

Attending Physician
Your personal doctor diagnoses and treats your medical condition in addition to communicating daily with the rest of the staff to carefully monitor your optimal plan of treatment. Your doctor may call in other highly experienced medical specialists to help diagnose and treat your condition. Ask your physicians any questions you have concerning your care or condition. Some patients find it useful to write down their questions as they occur and there is space at the end of this book for this purpose.

Resident Physicians/Fellow Physicians
These physicians are licensed medical doctors who are continuing their advanced training under the supervision of our attending doctors. These outstanding young doctors are selected through a competitive process from top medical centers throughout the country and the world. They are, in turn, responsible for the medical students.

Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Physicians Assistants (PAs)
There are a significant number of medical, surgical and specialty NPs or PAs in both the outpatient and inpatient areas. They assist the attending physicians with patient care and are often readily available to monitor and update orders. They follow their patients' progress during the hospital stay and work to coordinate care with post-hospitalization treatment. You often meet your surgical NPs or PAs during preadmission testing.

Registered Nurses (RNs)
A Georgetown Magnet nurse will be assigned to you each shift and is directly responsible for your care. Your RN will oversee your immediate team of nursing care providers, help to monitor your recovery, and teach you and your family the steps to care for yourself. Your nurse will direct the other members of the nursing team that includes clinical technicians, nursing assistants and unit secretaries. Nurse experts, such as enterostomal/wound nurses, are also available to assist in your care. Each nursing unit has a nursing coordinator who is responsible for the overall management of operations on the unit. If you have a concern or question about your care, feel free to speak to the nursing coordinator or the assistant nursing coordinator. You may have noticed that your RN wears a large gold triangular pin designating that he/she is a "Magnet nurse". Georgetown was awarded Magnet Status in 2004 for proven excellence in nursing care and patient care outcomes. Only 2% of the nation's hospitals can boast this award and it communicates to patients and their families that they can expect the very best in nursing care. Magnet facilities consistently outperform non-Magnet hospitals, delivering better patient outcomes, short lengths of stay and increased patient satisfaction rates. Georgetown is the first hospital in Washington to have this distinction.

Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs)
An LPN works in a team relationship with the RN to provide direct patient care, including treatments, medications, and other direct care.

Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) or Clinical Techs
Under the direct supervision of nurses, CNAs or Clin Techs provide basic nursing care to patients.

Our registered and licensed dieticians are available to provide extensive assessment and education to all patients who require medical nutrition therapy. The dieticians are an integral part of the multidisciplinary team and strive to ensure each patient's nutritional health. Your health care team may ask the dietician to visit you, or you may ask your nurse to arrange for a dietician to talk to you.

Clinical pharmacists are assigned to make rounds with the physician teams on patient care units to provide input into your medication therapy. They assure that your drug regimen is customized to provide maximum benefit. You may ask to speak to a pharmacist if you have questions about your medications.

Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, and Speech Language

Pathology Therapists
These therapists compose the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. At the request of your physician, these professionals provide quality therapy to adult and pediatric patients with physical dysfunction related to trauma, disease/illness and /or congenital problems. Such dysfunction may be related among other causes to neurological, orthopaedic, neuromuscular, or oncology diagnosis. They also offer services on an outpatient basis.

Radiologic Technologists
These professionals carry out diagnostic imaging procedures on you at the request of your physician. Examples of these include routine x-rays; CT, MRI, or Nuclear Medicine scans; Ultrasound, or more invasive interventional procedures. The results are then interpreted by radiologists, who are physicians specialized in radiology, and reported to your doctor.

Respiratory Therapy
Respiratory Therapists work with physicians to monitor patients' breathing in all phases of care, and assist in treatment/diagnosis of lung disease in all age groups. Sometimes they help people stop smoking, work one-on-one with patients to improve lung function or treat asthma sufferers. Some therapists are "first responders" who provide emergency care for those requiring rapid response.

Case Managers and Social Workers
Case Managers are available to help you make arrangements for your posthospital care. The staff can help you arrange for a nursing or rehabilitation facility; suggest physical, financial or emotional support services; arrange for visiting nurse or home care services; refer you to community resources for counseling about personal or family problems; and help you and your family face terminal illness. Case managers maintain a current list of home care agencies and will help you arrange services that are covered by your insurance. Call ext. 4-3750. Our social workers can provide counseling to help you deal with any personal, social, emotional and/or financial stresses that may result from an injury or illness. In addition, the Case Management department will monitor your hospital stay to assure that you are not hospitalized longer than necessary to minimize out-of-pocket costs.

See Pastoral Care.

A Word about Private Duty Nurses
MedStar Georgetown University Hospital does not advocate the use of private duty nurses. However, if you wish to have a private nurse at your bedside, the Nursing Office, 1st floor Main, will provide you with a list of agencies for you to contact. Please be advised that these nurses are not authorized to provide professional nursing care such as the administration of treatments or medications. They may, however, assist you with personal hygiene and comfort care measures.

Ethics Consult Services
The Ethics Consult Service is a free, confidential advisory service available at any time to assist MedStar Georgetown University Hospital patients, families and health care professionals in identifying, analyzing and resolving ethical issues. A Clinical Ethicist reviews each consult request. A full consult will generally involve a meeting of several ethicists, the health care team, you, and/or your family as appropriate. The ethicists facilitate discussions and clarify ethical issues in making important decisions. To request a consult call the Page Operator ext. 4-PAGE (ext. 4-7243) and request the "Ethics Consult Service."

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