Patient Experience | MedStar Washington Hospital Center | MedStar Health
Main entrance to MedStar Washington Hospital Center

We are committed to ensuring that you are as comfortable as possible during your stay with us. The information on this page will help prepare you for your hospital stay.

Patient rooms

Your room assignment depends upon the type of care you require. We will make every effort to provide the type of accommodations that you request.

Please be aware that we have a limited number of private rooms and they are assigned based on medical necessity and then on a first-come, first-served basis as they are available.

Deluxe private rooms and suites

For an additional charge, we offer patients deluxe private rooms in several patient care units throughout the hospital, along with deluxe private suites in a spacious new patient care unit known as The Pavilion.

The Pavilion's rooms feature fine art, fine furniture, fine linens, spacious tiled baths with marble vanities, and many other amenities usually found only in luxury hotels. Gourmet meals are prepared by The Pavilion's own chef in its own kitchen. Concierge and business services also are available.


Local calls may be made free of charge from in-room telephones.

  • For local calls to area code 202, dial 9, wait for a second dial tone, then dial the desired number

  • For local calls to area codes 703 or 301, dial 9, 1, area code and then the desired number

  • For long-distance calls, dial 9, then 0, followed by the area code and number. An operator will intercept your call to obtain your credit card or home telephone number

The use of cell phones is limited in patient-care areas. Please maintain a distance of at least 3 feet between your cellular phone and any medical equipment.

For hearing-impaired patients

The staff is ready to assist hearing-impaired patients in obtaining whatever communication device you prefer during your stay. There is no charge for these services.

Amplified handsets can be placed on your room phone to amplify the caller's voice. Ask the admitting representative or your nurse to contact the telecommunications department at 202-877-7070 to make arrangements.

Telecommunications devices for the deaf (TDDs) are available for use in your room. Ask the admitting representative or your nurse to contact the telecommunications department at 202-877-7070 to make arrangements.

Assistive-listening devices (ALDs) are maintained by the hearing and speech department for your use. Ask your nurse to contact the department at 202-877-6717 to make arrangements.

Nutritional care and meal services

Good nutritional care is an important part of your recovery. Your diet is ordered by your physician and depends upon your diagnosis and medical condition. Our staff of professional, registered dietitians is available to assess your nutritional requirements and provide individualized nutrition counseling.

Group classes on heart healthy and diabetic nutrition are also offered. Please check with your nurse for additional information.

Deluxe suites meals

For patients in deluxe private suites, gourmet meal service is standard for each meal. You may eat when you wish, and guests are welcome to join patients for meals. There is an additional charge for guest meals.

Guest trays

Visitors may order a meal tray through the unit clerk. Requests should be placed before 7 a.m. for breakfast, 11 a.m. for lunch, or 4 p.m. for dinner.

Gourmet meals

Our gourmet meals program combines elegant food and service with optimal nutrition for your health and well-being. Your nurse should make reservations by noon and a hospitality assistant will bring you a menu and take your order between 3 and 3:30 p.m.

There is an $11.50 charge per meal. Our staff will be happy to accommodate special diet requests.

Dining options for visitors

Visitors will find a fresh and inviting array of food choices in our cafeteria located on the ground floor of the main hospital and in the Panera Bread restaurant located in the Physicians Office Building.

Tips for being an empowered patient

You have a role in ensuring a safe and positive experience in the hospital. First is to identify key information:

  • Keep a list in your wallet of your routine medications, the dosage, and why you are taking them.

  • Identify a spokesperson to relay information to family and friends through email or a phone message.

  • Have an ICE (In Case of Emergency) partner in your cell phone contact list. Put the acronym ICE before the name of a designated emergency contact.

    • Make sure the person has agreed to be your ICE partner and has a list of people he or she should contact on your behalf.

    • Your ICE partner should know about any medical conditions that could affect emergency treatment, including allergies or current medication. If you are under 18, your ICE partner should be a parent or guardian.

  • Verify referrals and pre-certification with your insurance company.

List medications and medical history

You have a role in ensuring a safe and positive experience in the hospital. First is to identify key information:

  • Bring a list of the medications you take, including prescription, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and herbal medicines.

  • Write down your medical history, including the dates and reasons for previous hospitalizations. You'll be asked for this information when you arrive. 

Prepare wisely

  • If appropriate, you should have read and signed an Advance Directive (living will and/or durable power of attorney for healthcare decisions). Please let the admitting staff know if you have prepared these documents.

  • If you will be an inpatient, please discuss with your physician the length of time he or she anticipates that you'll be in the hospital and whether you should bring anything with you.

  • If you are coming in for an outpatient procedure involving anesthesia, please make sure someone will drive you home and if necessary, stay with you.

Be your own advocate

Advocate for yourself or have your spokesperson advocate for you. If you need further assistance, contact your Nurse Manager, or Patient Advocacy at 202-877-4968.

  • Ask if healthcare workers and visitors have washed their hands when they come into your room and before touching you.
  • Practice proper hand hygiene. Wash your hands:

    • Before and after you use the bathroom

    • Before and after you eat your meals

  • Ask about each medication you are given, and understand why you are taking it.

    • Make sure that everyone who gives you medication checks your hospital identification every time.

  • Ask about your rights and responsibilities.

  • Ask your doctor and your nurse about your plan of care.

  • Ask to see hospital identification if you do not recognize a healthcare worker who is in your room.

    • Hospital identification should be clearly visible at all times.

  • Ask sick friends and relatives not to visit you while you are in the hospital.

Admissions Testing Center checklist

Admissions Testing Center (ATC)
Room A 101, Main Hospital Building

Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Scheduling hours
Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturdays 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Phone: 202-877-7169
Fax: 1-866-298-5563

What to do

  • Arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment, and register at the Admissions Testing Center.

  • Park at the Hospital Parking Garage. The hospital validates parking for your preoperative testing.

  • Call the Admissions Testing Center if you are delayed or need to reschedule your appointment.

  • If you are more than 15 minutes late, we will ask you to reschedule.

What to bring

  • Government-issued photo identification (for example, driver's license, state ID, or passport).
  • Insurance cards, prescription cards, and any co-payment if needed.

  • First and last names and phone numbers of all your doctors.

  • A completed preoperative patient questionnaire.

  • Your advance directive.

  • Your doctor will be forwarding medical documents. If you have any recent documents, such as reports or test results, please bring them with you.

What to expect

  • Most preoperative visits last about 1.5 to 2 hours.

  • A pre-anesthesia nurse will conduct an interview to review the information provided in your patient questionnaire.

  • A nurse practitioner may conduct a history and physical.

  • Based on your surgery, testing may be completed (including blood work, chest x-ray, EKG, etc.).

  • You will receive detailed instructions about your medications (which to take/which to stop) before surgery.


Our parking garages can be very busy at certain times. Please plan to arrive at least 30 minutes early for your appointment to allow for any garage delays and to make your way to your destination.

  • Plan to park in the Hospital Parking Garage.

    • The hospital only validates parking tickets for outpatient procedures, preoperative testing, and the day of discharge.

    • If you will be at the hospital for an extended amount of time, you may purchase discounted parking coupons.

  • Learn more about parking and entrances at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

  • If you are delayed on the day of surgery, please call 202-877-0732.

  • If you have questions, please call the Admissions Testing Center at 202-877-7169.

Hospital departments and parking information

Campus map with parking facilities

The Hospital Parking Garage is open 24 hours, every day.

The Physician Office Garage is open Monday to Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day except holidays. Visitors can exit at any time using automated pay stations.

The MRI and neuroscience center has a separate parking area. Patients are instructed how to access these parking areas at the time their appointments are made.

Discount parking options for long-term patients

Discount parking coupons are available to long-term patients and guests to park at a reduced parking rate of $50 for a book of ten tickets. Each ticket can be used to exit the garage one time.

For those guests who want to be able to leave and return on the same day, a ten-day keycard is available for $60 and must be used over 10 consecutive days.

To purchase parking coupons, please stop in the parking office, on the ground floor of the Hospital Parking Garage. Office hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Forms of payment accepted

The parking office is only able to accept credit and debit cards. Individuals visiting long-term care patients may also be eligible for parking discounts.

Valet parking

Valet parking is available for patients and visitors at MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s main entrance from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Valet parking is not available on weekends or holidays. Patients displaying a handicap tag in their car will receive a $1 discount on their parking rate.

Valet parking rates must be paid in cash only.

Courtesy parking

Courtesy parking is available to patients on the day of discharge within a 24-hour period. Please visit the discharging nursing station for parking validation.

Before surgery

If you fail to follow these instructions, your surgery may be canceled.

  • Arrange to have a responsible adult (at least 18 years of age) to drive or to accompany you home (if using public transportation). We recommend that person stay with you for 24 to 48 hours after the surgery.

    • If you are unaccompanied on the day of surgery, your surgery will be rescheduled or canceled.

  • Bring your government-issued photo identification (for example, driver's license, state ID, passport), insurance information, prescription information, and co-payment if needed.

  • Payment will be needed for parking if not receiving outpatient surgery. Learn more about parking and entrances at MedStar Washington.

  • Follow physician and/or Admissions Testing Center instructions about which medications you are allowed to take and not take.

  • Leave valuables, large amounts of cash, credit cards, and jewelry at home or with a friend for safekeeping.

    • The hospital is not responsible for lost/stolen items.

  • Remove all makeup, nail polish, piercings/jewelry, etc. from your body.

  • Have storage cases for contacts, glasses, dentures, etc. during surgery.

  • Call your surgeon's office if you are feeling ill.

What not to do

  • Do not smoke, eat, or drink anything, including water, candy, gum, mints, and lozenges after midnight on the night before surgery.
    • If you do not follow these instructions, your surgery may be cancelled or delayed.
  • Do not shave your surgical area before your procedure. It will be done by the hospital staff.
  • Avoid bringing any sort of baggage or valuables with you to surgery.
    • If you want belongings for your inpatient stay, have a friend or family member bring them after your surgery.
    • The Hospital Center is not responsible for the loss of items.
  • Do not bring any dependents with you. Plan for someone to care for all dependents (children and adults) during your surgical stay.

What to expect

  • Your surgeon's office will call you the day before surgery.

  • If you have questions, please call the Admissions Testing Center at 202-877-7169.

Day of surgery

  • Shower the morning of your procedure using antibacterial soap. Download the pre-surgery skin preparation instructions brochure.

  • Brush your teeth, but do not swallow any water.

  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing and low-heeled shoes to avoid post-surgery discomfort.

    • Wear a shirt that opens in the front if you're having surgery on any body part above your waist.

  • Bring government-issued photo identification (driver's license, state ID, passport), insurance information, prescription information, and co-payment if needed.

  • Have a responsible adult drive or accompany you home.

    • You will not be permitted to leave alone, and your surgery will be rescheduled or canceled if a responsible adult is not with you.

  • Follow physician and/or Admissions Testing Center instructions about which medications you are allowed to take and not take.

    • If you are permitted to take routine medications, take them with a sip of water before going to the hospital.

  • Report to Admissions Testing Center (Room A101) at least 2 hours before your scheduled surgery.

    • If you are late, your surgery may be rescheduled or canceled.

What not to do

  • Do not smoke, eat, or drink anything, including water, candy, gum, mints, and lozenges.
  • Do not bring valuables, large sums of cash, jewelry, or credit cards with you.
  • Do not bring your medications with you when you come to the hospital. The hospital will provide medication as needed.
  • Do not wear makeup, jewelry, perfumes, or lotions. You may use a little deodorant.
  • Do not bring any dependents with you during your surgical stay. Plan for someone to care for all dependents (children and adults).

Post-Surgery Information

After your surgery, you will be transferred to the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) for recovery. The recovery nurses will care for you, and you will remain here until discharge or until you are moved to an inpatient room.

Visitation to the PACU is limited and must be arranged with the recovery nurse.

What to expect in PACU

  • A nurse will be available to monitor your pain control, surgical site, and vital signs, and will give you any medications ordered by your physician.

  • Your family can see you as soon as you are fully awake (this could take up to 1 hour after surgery).

    • You are allowed to have two visitors at a time for a brief period.

    • Most patients stay in the PACU for approximately 2 hours.

  • If you are in pain, please tell the nurses so they can help make you comfortable.

  • From the PACU, you will either be discharged home, or you will be transferred into an inpatient unit, where you will be carefully monitored.


  • You may have a patient controlled analgesia (PCA) pump, a machine that lets you control the amount of pain medication you can give yourself as soon as you are able.

  • If you are admitted to the hospital and have a CPAP machine for sleep apnea, have a family member bring it for you.

  • You may be given a special diet or clear liquids immediately after surgery. Your care team will discuss when you will be ready for solid foods.

  • Family members may visit during each unit's established visiting hours.

  • There may be a delay before a bed is available, because our hospital often is at full capacity, but we will make every effort to move you from the PACU and into your room soon after surgery.


  • Once you are awake, alert, have a tolerable pain level, and can be transferred from stretcher to chair, you will be allowed to be discharged home.

  • Your nurse will assist you in getting dressed.

  • Make sure you have a responsible adult to drive or to accompany you home. We recommend that person should be available to stay with you for 24 to 48 hours after the surgery.

    • You will not be permitted to leave alone.

  • Any discharge instructions and prescriptions will be given in writing to the adult assisting in taking you home.

  • The adult taking you home will be asked to bring the vehicle to the main entrance, where you will be taken in a wheelchair. We will help you into the vehicle.

Pain management

  • Your surgeon can provide you with information and instructions of how to deal with your pain post surgery. He or she can also provide you with pain management medications, if deemed appropriate.

  • Please download the pain management pamphlet for more details.

Discharge and social work support

Nurse case managers and social workers are available to assist you and your family to make arrangements for post-hospital care. The staff can:

  • Help you arrange for a nursing home or aftercare facility

  • Suggest physical, financial, or emotional support services

  • Arrange for visiting nurse, hospice, or other home care services

  • Arrange for transportation home from the hospital

  • Refer you to community resources such as counseling for personal or family problems

  • Help you and your family face the difficulties of terminal illness

It is wise to begin to plan for any needed post-hospital care or services early in your hospital stay and coordinate plans with your insurance coverage. Not all insurances cover all services.

You can reach a nurse case manager or social worker through the nursing staff on your nursing unit, your physician, or by calling extension 7-6286.

Patient satisfaction survey

You may receive a copy of our patient survey in the mail. Please take a few minutes to complete and return the survey. Your comments and suggestions will be confidentially shared with our managers and staff.

Feedback from our patients provides us with valuable information that helps us improve patient care services as well as recognize employees who go above and beyond.

Share feedback about your care team

Please let us know when you receive exceptional service from a MedStar Washington Hospital Center team member. We’d appreciate hearing the details of how our team members reflected our MedStar Health SPIRIT values.

How to say thanks

  • Share your experience via email.

  • Nominate a staff member for our Center Star employee recognition program.

    • Your nurse can direct you to the closest display of award nomination forms

    • Contact ext. 7-5589 for assistance

  • Complete and return your patient satisfaction survey when it arrives in the mail.