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Patient Services
See also the "Topics A-Z" tool, an alphabetical index to all visitor- and patient-related subject areas. Patients may also call the Patient Representative at (301-496-2626) with any questions about patient services.


Bioethics Consult Service

A bioethics consultation team is available 24 hours a day to help you think about issues regarding your health care and participation in research. Please feel free to call the Department of Clinical Bioethics at 301-496-2429 if you have questions or concerns about your part in biomedical research.

Members of the team come from both the Clinical Center's ethics committee and the Department of Clinical Bioethics. During your stay, you will make many decisions about your care and participation in research. These decisions may be hard to make. The bioethics consultation service can help you balance your needs with those of others as you deal with the impact of illness.

Some questions you might want to discuss with a bioethics consultation team include:

  • How do I mesh my medical situation with my values about life and the future?
  • How might I decide about treatment options or side effects?
  • How might I think about a power of attorney or a living will?
  • What about my concerns for privacy and confidentiality?
  • What might I do about family arrangements or inconveniences?

Counseling Services

HIV Counseling Program. For patients, the HIV Counseling Program (sponsored by the Social Work Department) provides

  • Individual and group counseling for patients living with HIV/AIDS or newly diagnosed and concerned about coping with the illness, partner notification, community resources, and long-term psychosocial support.
  • Pre- and post-test counseling as needed for patients seen at the NIH/CC.
  • Education and referral for patients excluded from clinical trials because they tested HIV+.

Psychiatric Liaison Program. At the Clinical Center, there is a psychiatric liaison program in which nurses provide mental health evaluations, consultation, and counseling to patients, their families, and those who care about them. Not only do psychiatric liaison nurses assist patients and families to adapt to illness, they also help make the patient care units more sensitive to their needs.

A referral to the psychiatric liaison nurse is made by your primary nurse or doctor in order to address normal emotional reactions resulting from illness. Such reactions may be anxiety, worry, depression, anger, stress, or difficulties in problem solving. The psychiatric liaison nurse can also provide you with referrals in your community. When more psychiatric help is needed during your hospital stay, the psychiatric liaison nurse works with the psychiatrist at the Clinical Center. In this case, the psychiatric liaison nurse and the psychiatrist will work together on your behalf. Psychiatric liaison nurses also lead meetings and support groups for patients, their families, friends, and other loved ones. When you are admitted to your specific unit, your primary nurse will let you know about these services.

Dietary Services

photo of dietary staff preparing food

Meals. The Clinical Center Nutrition Department's mission is to provide the best food and nutrition service to you during your stay.

Selective menus are planned for you based on the diet your physician has ordered. Simply mark your choice on the menu and return it to a Nutrition Department staff member in a timely manner. When you are first admitted or when a choice is not made, qualified persons will choose meals for you. A registered dietitian or health technician can talk to you about your diet, food preferences, and any other concerns you may have about your nutrition needs.

The Nutrition Department serves meals between the following hours for patients who use the paper menu to make their meal choices:

Breakfast: 7:30-8:30 a.m.
Lunch: 11:30-1:00 p.m.
Dinner: 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Your tray may be delayed when medical procedures or tests affect your meal service. Your nurse will arrange for your tray when your procedures are completed.

Room Service. Patients on unrestricted diets can order a restaurant-style meal from menus in their rooms. These meals are served at the bedside and can be ordered from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Please order your meal to be served either before or after any scheduled procedure. Please ask your nurse if you are eligible for room service.

Continental Breakfast.Outpatients who must fast for blood work or other tests are eligible for a continental breakfast once their procedures are complete. A variety of foods is available for outpatients who are eligible. Located on the first floor in the admission area, this service is available from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Birthday Cakes.Celebration cakes are available for you if you must spend your birthday at the Clinical Center. Your nurse can arrange for the cake to be sent to your room.

Special Diets. A dietitian is available to discuss your diet, food allergies, preferences, or intolerance . Vegetarian meals (Vegan or Total Vegetarian, Lacto-Vegetarian, Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian) are usually ordered based on patient preference. These diets may be contraindicated if nutrient modification is needed or a specific protocol need is identified.

Financial Services

SEE ALSO: Banking Services

The Patient Emergency Fund. For more than 25 years, the Clinical Center Patient Emergency Fund (PEF) has helped financially strained patients and their families meet emergency expenses. PEF helps patients who come to the Clinical Center to take part in research.

Clinical Center patients come from all over the US and the world. Many patients and their families deplete their savings traveling to the Clinical Center and have difficulty affording basic necessities, lodging, and food. Others suffer financial hardship due to illness prior to their participation in research. The Clinical Center Patient Emergency Fund is used to help in emergency circumstances and with unexpected incidental expenses.

PEF is administered by the Social Work Department. To receive PEF funds, patients must contact their social worker. For information about PEF, contact:

Patient Emergency Fund National Institutes of Health, PHS, DHHS
Social Work Department, NIH Clinical Center
10 Center Drive Room 1N252 MSC 1160
Bethesda, MD 20892-1160.

Friends of the Clinical Center. Founded in 1984, the Friends of the Clinical Center (FOCC) is a nonprofit, charitable organization located in the Clinical Center. It provides emergency financial assistance to NIH patients and their families. Illness often causes stress—both emotional and financial—for patients and family members. In addition to the concerns of finding a successful treatment, lost income over a period of time often has severe financial impact. FOCC can help by providing emergency funding on a case-by-case basis to those in need during these stressful times. FOCC often assists with payment of rent and mortgages, utilities, car payments, transportation costs to and from NIH, medical bills, and other types of expenses. Patients desiring consideration for funding from FOCC should speak with a social worker. For information about FOCC, you may visit its office in the Clinical Center in Room 1C166A, call 2-0193, or view its website at:

Outpatient Voucher Program. There is a voucher program, supported by some Institutes for patients on specific protocols, to help defray the cost of participating in research at the Clinical Center. You will be notified concerning your eligibility.

Social Security Administration. A Social Security Administration field representative visits the Clinical Center monthly on the third Friday of the month between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Both in- and outpatients can meet with this field representative. Call your social worker to make an appointment with the representative, and to receive helpful brochures and applications.

Internal Medicine Consult Services

Internal Medicine Consult Service resources are available, by physician referral, to all inpatients and outpatients at the Clinical Center. The consult service group has experience with both simple and complex medical problems, and is familiar with the NIH intramural research program and Clinical Center environment. The overall objective of the service is to help the research teams provide optimum clinical care.

Interpreter Services

Interpreting services are available for some languages on a limited basis. Call the volunteer office for information at 6-1807 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Evenings, after 4 p.m., or on weekends, call the admissions office at 6-3315. Contact the on-call social worker by calling the page operator at 6-1211. Sign language interpretation for the hearing impaired may also be obtained.

Pain and Palliative Care Services

Pain and Palliative Care at the NIH Clinical Center is a clinical consult service whose goal is to relieve physical, emotional and spiritual suffering through interdisciplinary symptom management and holistic care to patients in research studies at NIH. The service is available by physician consult referral to all Clinical Center patients living with chronic, life-threatening conditions.

Patient Representative

The Patient Representative serves as a link between the patient and the hospital. The Patient Representative makes every effort to assure that patients are informed of their rights and responsibilities and that they understand what the Clinical Center is, what it can offer, and how it operates. We realize that this setting is unique and may generate questions about the patient's role in the research process. As in any large and complex system, communication can be a problem and misunderstandings can occur. If you have an unanswered question or feel there is a problem you would like to discuss, call the Patient Representative. The sooner your concerns are known, the easier they are to address. You may reach the Patient Representative at 6-2626. Calls made to this number after 5 p.m. or on weekends or holidays will be returned the following business day.

Pediatric Services

SEE ALSO: Of Special Interest to Parents

Pediatric Inpatient Service. A 17-bed pediatric inpatient unit (13 West) and an 11-bed pediatric unit (9 West) provide care for patients from all Institutes. These two units provide family-centered care, including rooming-in for one parent and a children's playroom. Children and families receive age-appropriate patient teaching, health promotion, and physical and emotional support. Nurses trained to care for children and their families staff both units. Recreation therapy, art therapy, social work services, dietary services, spiritual ministry, and a schoolteacher all make the child's hospital stay as pleasant as possible-for the child as well as the family.

A board-certified pediatrician staffs the pediatric inpatient service. This doctor is available for advice or consultation and reviews the health status of all child patients with charge nurses every day. The pediatrician also joins Institute staff for ward rounds, helps with general child health issues, and works with ward staff on each child's medical plan. Meals are tailored to the needs and desires of children.

Pediatric Day Hospital. The Pediatric Day Hospital, located on 9 West, provides skilled care for children who need special care but do not need to be admitted as inpatients. Services include:

  • medication administration
  • patient and family teaching
  • blood and urine testing

Pediatric Consult Service.The Pediatric Consult Service is a resource for any clinical researcher who needs assistance with caring for pediatric patients. Researchers may ask for a one-time consultation for an acute pediatric problem or for more consultations to help manage long-term conditions.

Childcare Services (Family Friend Program) Assistance with child care is available through the Clinical Center Family Friend program, a child care service staffed by trained volunteers. The program may be used by:

  • parents who need respite while caring for children who are pediatric patients; and
  • parents who are patients, but have no other means of child care, such as family members or friends.

Arrangements can be made by the social worker or the protocol's research nurse.

Photo of Children's Inn

Children's Inn. The Children's Inn at NIH is a family-centered residence on the NIH campus serving pediatric patients and their families who travel here for treatment at the Clinical Center. The Inn provides a home-like atmosphere of private sleeping rooms with baths, common living areas, playrooms, kitchen and laundry facilities, a computer center, and a library.

The Inn operates on a self-help basis with the resident children and their families helping themselves and each other. Family members do their own shopping, cooking, laundry, and supervise their children as they would at home. The first reservation to stay at the Children's Inn must come to the Inn through the patient's social worker. Thereafter, returning patients may call the Inn directly for reservations at 301-496-5672.

Photo of teacher and children at NIH Children's School
Children's School. While they are patients at the Clinical Center, children are expected to attend the NIH Children's School a satellite school of Montgomery County. Located in the 10th floor solarium, the school is staffed by teachers who instruct students in grades kindergarten through 12. Teachers also come to the bedside when patients are unable to attend school.

Children should bring their textbooks and current assignments. The NIH teachers will keep the local school apprised of the child's progress. Studies for the graduate equivalency program (GED) and English spoken as the other language (ESOL) are also provided to those who meet a certain criterion. The school can be contacted by phone (301-496-2077), e-mail (, or fax (301-402-9202).

Photo of playroom
Playroom. Children and their families are welcome in the 14th floor playroom. At least one special event for children is held each month. Occasionally, special visitors entertain the children during these events. When time permits, entertainers may visit patients in their rooms.

The playroom has an aquarium and two resident guinea pigs. As part of the animal-assisted therapy program, children are encouraged to hold and play with the guinea pigs. Twice a month, several dogs are brought in to visit both adult and pediatric patients. These visits are voluntary and closely follow hospital infection control procedures.

The playroom on the 14th floor is open for supervised play during the following hours: Monday through Thursday: 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 1:30-3:30 p.m., 6:30-8 p.m. Fridays: 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Pharmacy Services

The Inpatient Pharmacy. The Inpatient Pharmacy provides medications for hospitalized patients. To assure that pediatric patients get the right dose for their smaller size, pharmacists do a special check for patients less than 18 years old. Pharmacists also check medication orders for potential allergies, proper dose, drug interactions, and drug incompatibilities.

Photo of outpatient pharmacy
The Outpatient Pharmacy. If your NIH doctor prescribes drugs to take home that are related to your research study, they will be filled at the Outpatient Pharmacy. They are usually given in amounts up to a 90-day supply. The Outpatient Pharmacy dispenses prescriptions and provides medication counseling to patients and their guardians for medication to be taken outside the hospital. The Outpatient Pharmacy is located on the first floor and is open during these days and times:

  • Monday through Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Friday 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Weekends and holidays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Prescriptions from outside doctors cannot be filled by the Clinical Center pharmacy.

Clinical Pharmacy Specialists. Clinical Pharmacy Specialists have advanced training and experience. They are assigned to patient care and often go on "rounds" with the medical team. They also:

  • recommend specific medications
  • take part in selecting medications for special needs
  • monitor for side effects when medications are given
  • do medication counseling and patient education

Recreation Services

SEE ALSO: Playroom

The recreation therapy section (organizationally under Rehabilitation Services) provides recreation, library services, in-hospital entertainment, maintains a movie channel on your room TV, and provides many other services Helping patients cope with the stress of hospitalization and maintaining their quality of life in the face of chronic disease and experimental treatment are the section's objectives. Available to all patients and their families, most programs are held on the 14th floor of the hospital and may include arts and crafts, music, games and sports, social events, and exercise. The gymnasium has a game room and a well-equipped exercise room.

The 14th floor adult recreation services are open during the following hours (In addition to these standard hours of operation, patients and guests will find an extensive list of special events on the front and back sides of the monthly calendar.)

Craft Room: Monday through Friday:10:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m.; 1:30-3:30 pm

Gymnasium: Monday through Friday: 1:30-3:30 p.m.; Monday and Wednesday: 6:30-8:30 p.m.; Saturday: 1:30-4:30 p.m.

Weight Room Monday through Friday 1:30-3:30 p.m; Monday and Wednesday: 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Game Room Monday and Wednesday: 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Bingo in the assembly hall Wednesday: 7-8 p.m

Instruction in coping skills such as relaxation, enhanced communication, and stress management is available.

Trips are taken into the community for entertainment and sightseeing. Wheelchairs can be accommodated on all trips.

Photo of patient library
Library. A well-stocked library is located in the 14th floor solarium. There are more than 5,000 books including a selection of current bestsellers, reference, foreign language, and large print and picture books. A special section featuring selections on health and coping is also included. Books may be checked out for 2 weeks. The library subscribes to some 30 magazines, the Washington Post, and The New York Times. If you are not able to go to the library yourself, magazine selections may be made from the cart that is brought to the patient care unit each week. Call the library to find out the day and time. A hospital volunteer or member of the library staff will also bring books or other library material to you between cart visits. You may return books to the library yourself or have a staff member do it for you. After hours, use the book drop in the library door.

Internet and e-mail access, cassette tapes and players, typewriters, guitars, and special visual aids such as talking books, book holders, and "bed specs" (prism glasses that allow you to read lying down) are also available. Drop by the library to browse or contact a hospital volunteer or nurse for information. Also watch the monthly patient activities schedule for partial lists of new acquisitions.

The library is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Federal holidays it is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. You may call the library at 6-3036 for assistance or information.

Television.Each patient room has a color television with a dedicated movie channel.

VCRs. Portable VCRs may be available for bedside viewing of other movies. The Therapeutic Recreation Section has a large selection of movies for patient use.

Rehabilitation Services

The Clinical Center's Rehabilitation Medicine Department ( many services to patients and their families. Rehabilitation Medicine at the NIH Clinical Center provides medical evaluations of disability. Rehabilitation Medicine professionals help patients overcome problems with strength, mobility, movement, self-care, speaking, swallowing, or learning. Rehabilitation professionals help patients preserve, regain, and prevent a decline in function as well as learn new skills.

Medical Section. The Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation section offers humanistic and quality patient care to patients who suffer functional decline from disease, accident or psychological problems. Every patient referred to the Medical Section for consultation receives a complete evaluation by a physiatrist—a doctor specially trained in rehabilitation medicine.

If you are referred to the Medical Section, the physiatrist will make a treatment plan specifically for you. Common recommendations include programs to improve strength, stamina, balance, and the training in the use of adaptive equipment. The Medical Section consults and meets with referring physicians and the patient's family and makes referrals to other Rehabilitation Medicine Sections for further specialized evaluations, treatment, and equipment.

Physical Therapy Section. Physical therapists work with patients to help them keep and maintain and improve their ability to do daily activities. They make treatment programs tailored to each patient's problems and needs. Treatments may include family education; exercises to improve the patient's coordination, balance, and strength; and activities that improve movement and help the patient work with devices such as braces or splints.

If you need to use walking aids, you will be taught how to use them. If you currently use a wheelchair or specially constructed mechanical appliances, bring these with you.

Speech/Language Pathology Section. This section works with patients who have problems with communicating, eating, or swallowing. Treatment focuses on helping patients communicate at their best, with a special focus on communicating basic needs and ideas.

Occupational Therapy Section. The Occupational Therapy Section helps patients who are having trouble moving and using their hands. Occupational Therapy is designed to maintain or restore the ability to do daily life tasks and, through adaptation, minimize the effects of disability. Occupational therapists can work closely with you and/or your child to develop or improve function.

Recreation Therapy Section : SEE Recreation Services

Social Work Services

The Social Work Department provides many of the patient services described throughout this document, among them The Patient Emergency Fund, Wigs for Patients, Notary Services, Support Groups, and many others.

If you or members of your family have difficulties or concerns during your stay, social workers are here to provide information and counseling. In most patient units and outpatient clinics, new patients are routinely screened by social workers.

You are encouraged to speak with a social worker to explore your concerns or any other issues that have an impact on your coping with treatment and illness. These include anxiety, depression, concerns about family, work, and adjustment to the Clinical Center. Social workers are available to support you with issues related to your taking part in protocols at NIH. They can also help connect you to valuable resources, support organizations, and public and private agencies that address personal, financial, and health care problems.

Many patients need special assistance with discharge from the hospital, and your social worker will work with staff to set up services, supplies, special equipment, or rehabilitation at home.

There are several ways to obtain social work services:

  • See the social worker on your patient care unit.
  • Call the Social Work Department at 6-2381 and ask for a visit from a social worker.
  • Ask your doctor, nurse, family member, or a friend to ask for a meeting with your social worker.

Spiritual Services

Photo of chapel
The Department of Spiritual Ministry is located on the 14th floor. The chaplaincy staff supports your spiritual needs. Chaplains are available for personal visits with you and your loved ones. Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant chaplains hold regular services in the 14th floor Inter-Faith Chapel. If your faith is not represented within the staff, the chaplains will contact your faith group representative on your behalf. Scriptures and religious literature of most faiths are available upon request.

Religious services are held at these times:

  • Catholic: Daily at 11:15 a.m. Holy Communion is distributed at the bedside upon request. The Blessed Sacrament is reserved in a small chapel on the 8th floor. This chapel is open weekdays for meditation.
  • Jewish: Friday at 4:30 p.m.
  • Islamic: Monday through Friday at 1:30 p.m.
  • Protestant: Sunday at 10 a.m., devotions on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. Holy Communion is distributed on the first Sunday of each month. Bedside Communion is available upon request.

Special services and changes in the regular schedule are announced by special notice and in the patient activities schedule available at the nurses' station. Escorts can be arranged through the nursing staff to take patients in wheelchairs to the chapel. To contact a chaplain, visit the 14th floor, call 6-3407, or ask the nurse or social worker to help you.

Support Groups

All group facilitators may be reached at 301-496-2381.

Ovarian Support Group. Every first Monday, 12 - 1 pm; Every third Thursday, 11 am-12 pm. This group is for ovarian cancer patients currently on protocol or follow up at NIH. The Monday group is a support group and the Thursday group is an educational group, which covers monthly topics of interest to ovarian cancer patients.

Medicine for the Soul: Spiritual Growth Discussion Group Tuesdays, 3:30 - 4:30 pm. This group, open to people of all religious faiths, offers patients and family members an opportunity to discuss spiritual issues associated with illness, suffering, healing, and dying.

NCI/Surgery Branch, New Patient Orientation Group. Tuesday/Thursdays, 10 - 11 a.m. Wednesday/Fridays, 12 - 1 p.m. These groups provide a general orientation to the Clinical Center and NCI's surgery branch. It's for patients undergoing evaluation for participation in clinical trials. Family members and friends who accompany the patients are encouraged to attend the orientation.

IL-2 Support Group for HIV/AIDS Patients. Wednesdays, 3:15 - 4:00 pm. This group consists of patients on NIAID protocols for HIV infection and who are currently receiving IL-2 therapy. This group meets weekly for support and information sharing.

HIV Support Group. Wednesdays, 11:30 am- 12:45 pm. This is an open-ended group for patients and their families/significant others. The goal is to provide support around illness-related issues: role changes, family relationships, and coping with physical changes.

Cancer Support Group. Wednesdays, 1:30- 2:30 p.m. This is a general support group open to patients, and their families, within the Clinical Center who have a diagnosis of cancer. Focus is on mutual support and sharing effective coping strategies.

HIV Caretaker Support Group. Thursdays, 12:00-1:00 pm. This group offers discussion of various issues important to HIV caretakers (biological family members, step-parents, adoptive families, and foster parents). The group provides a safe, supportive environment for caretakers to discuss parenting issues, feelings about their children's illness, issues of disclosure, social supports, and financial concerns. It provides an opportunity for caretakers to make new acquaintances, develop a supportive network, and become familiar with NIH and NIH policies and procedures.

Volunteer Services

Photo of hospital volunteers
Hospital volunteers serve in many ways to make your stay at the Clinical Center more pleasant. Some volunteers greet you at the admission desk, while others may be assigned to your patient care unit. They can introduce you to the hospital, answer general questions, or act as language interpreters. Others can shop for you, accompany you to appointments, or just spend time visiting. Volunteers in recreation help you with crafts, special events, and go on scheduled trips. Red Cross volunteers provide a variety of hospitality services to make patients feel welcome and more comfortable. Volunteers are here because they understand how important it is to share time with patients who are away from home and family.

Most volunteers can be recognized easily by their uniforms and volunteer patch. If you would like a helpful hand or have a special need, call the volunteer program office at 6-1807 or visit in room 1N252. The office hours are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Other Services

Banking Services. An array of financial services is available to you from the NIH Federal Credit Union (NIHFCU). The Credit Union has provided financial services to the NIH Community for over 60 years. It is a federally-insured, member-owned and operated cooperative.

You do not have to be a member of the Credit Union to cash personal checks (though some restrictions apply). But you may join the Credit Union to take advantage of membership benefits such as low-cost loans, savings and checking accounts, and convenient account access.

With a $25 deposit in a savings account, you can join NIHFCU. You will also need a valid photo ID including a driver's license or passport and verification of your affiliation with NIH (such as an NIH identification badge). You may remain a member as long as you like—even after you leave NIH.

The NIHFCU Clinical Center Branch is located on the B1 level and is open at these times:

Monday through Thursday: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Friday: 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Note: Extended hours on Friday and Saturday are for the Teller Department only,

A full-service ATM just outside this branch is available 24 hours a day. Another ATM is at the top of the escalators near the second-floor cafeteria.

For more information about NIHFCU membership or products and services, please visit our web site at or call its Telephone Service Center at 1-800-877-6440, TDD 301-881-5822.

Barber and Beauty Shop Services. The barbershop on the B1 level is open from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The beauty shop on the B1 level is also open from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Clinical Center Galleries. Looking around the first floor of the Clinical Center, you will notice art galleries. These galleries, on view 24 hours a day, feature sales of artwork by artists from the Washington, DC, area, with occasional exhibits from around the country. Each artwork sale benefits patients with a 20 percent donation contributed to the Patient Emergency Fund. The Red Cross office in the hospital's north lobby has price lists for all the galleries. Price lists and other information about the galleries are available from the Office of Facility Management (B1L410) between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Art may be bought by contacting the Office of Facility Management at 301-496-2862. Feel free to browse through the galleries to enjoy the current display and, perhaps, to purchase a favorite piece.

Laundry Services: Washers and dryers are available for your use and are located on the B-1 level of the hospital (room B1N237). Free tokens to operate the machines are available from your patient care unit. You may ask your unit coordinator for details about this service. Some patient care units also have washers and dryers. A dry cleaning service is available through the R & W gift shop on the B1 level.

Mail Services. Mail is usually delivered to your unit at least once a day Monday through Friday. Special delivery and registered mail will be distributed as soon as it arrives. You may mail letters at the self-service post office near the bank on the B1 level. Envelopes and stamps are available there, too. If you need help, ask the unit coordinator or a hospital volunteer. Provide this address to your friends and relatives:

Patient Name
NIH Clinical Center
Building 10, Patient Care Unit
10 Center Drive MSC
Bethesda, MD 20892

To make sure your mail reaches you quickly, relatives and friends should write "patient mail" on the envelope. Also, ask for the ZIP-plus-4 code for your unit.

Medic-Alert Bracelets and Necklaces. The Clinical Center will help patients obtain stainless steel Medic-Alert bracelets and necklaces for patients whose medical problems warrant them. Contact your social worker to obtain the order form for this identification. To ensure the accuracy of the information on the bracelet or necklace, you should talk with your doctor about how to state your medical condition.

Notary Services. Public notaries are available to witness signatures and certify documents. The patient representative and the admissions office staff can provide you with information about notary services.

Parking for Patients. Patients and their visitors may park in the Clinical Center garage.

The entrance to this garage is located on Memorial Drive. The entrance is marked "Patient/Visitors Parking." All patients should stop to get a parking ticket and have their vehicle inspected by security. personnel. Inpatients may leave their cars in the garage during their hospital stays.

Once you have parked, follow signs to the elevators in the center of the garage. Take an elevator to the first floor of the hospital and go to the admissions desk in the main lobby. There, you will be greeted by admissions staff. While you are at admissions, the staff will direct you to the security desk to have your parking ticket validated (stamped) so that you will not have to pay. If your ticket is not stamped, you will be charged for parking.

When you are inside the garage, you can also get assistance, if you need it, from the staff at the parking attendant's booth near the elevators. For example, they can help you park or reach the elevators.

On weekends and at night you can park easily on the P-3 level of the Clinical Center garage At those times, it is not necessary to get a ticket for validation.

Valet parking. Valet parking is available for patients and their visitors at the main entrance of the Clinical Center (South Lobby) Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., (except Federal holidays). To use valet parking:

  1. Drive up to the hospital's main entrance and stop in front of the valet station.
  2. The valet parking attendant will greet you, give you a claim ticket, and park your vehicle.
  3. When you need your vehicle, go to the parking validation desk across from admissions. A staff member will validate (stamp) your ticket. This desk is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. A validation desk is also located in the South Lobby at the transportation desk (open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday).

Publications for Patients. The hospital produces a variety of patient information materials on many of the conditions and procedures under study at the Clinical Center. Feel free to ask your doctor or nurse whether there is any literature available about a topic of interest to you. A Visitor Information Center in the Clinical Center provides information about the Institutes.

Shuttle Bus Services. There is a shuttle bus service that can take you around the NIH campus. For routes and schedules, go to

Telephone Services. On most units, there are telephones in each room for local calls. When your family and friends call you, they may reach you by dialing 301-402 and your extension number. If you are moved to another room, your telephone extension number will change. If callers do not know the number, they may call 301-496-4000 and the operator will locate you. As a courtesy to other patients, please ask family and friends to call before 10 p.m. There are also pay telephones located throughout the hospital.

Local calls
To call a number within the hospital, press the last five digits of the number.

To call local outside numbers: press 9-202 for Washington, D.C.; press 9-301 for Maryland; press 9-703 for Virginia.

Long-distance calls
For long-distance calls, you may use your patient extension to call collect or to bill charges to a credit card. It is not possible to charge calls to your room extension or accept incoming collect calls.

On each patient care unit, a telephone is provided for long-distance calls at no expense to you. Calls may be placed from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and from 6 p.m. to midnight. We urge you to limit your calls to 10 minutes in consideration of your fellow patients who may also need access to the telephone. If you cannot get to this telephone, ask your social worker to authorize a long-distance call from your room telephone.

Travel Services. If you need help with travel plans, the travel agency staff can assist you and your family. The staff can obtain plane, train, bus, and airport shuttle information, make reservations or changes for you, and secure tickets. For further information and assistance, call or visit the travel office on the first floor weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. The telephone number 1-866-227-9339.

Wigs for Patients. The Clinical Center Social Work Department processes wig requests for patients who have hair loss during treatment. Upon receipt of a request, a social worker authorizes a voucher to buy a wig from a contractor hired by the Clinical Center. Ambulatory patients may take their authorizations to room 1N252 to get a wig voucher. When they have the voucher, patients may contact the wig contractor and make an appointment, either at the contractor's place of business or in the Clinical Center.

National Institutes
of Health
  Department of Health
and Human Services
NIH Clinical Center National Institutes of Health