Mercy Baltimore

Frequently Asked Questions - Radiation Oncology at Mercy

Radiation Oncology FAQs
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How long does a course of radiation treatments usually last?

Most radiation treatments are daily, five days per week, for a specified period of 1-8 weeks depending on the disease and the course prescribed by your physician.

Will I be able to drive after my treatment?

Most patients are able to drive while receiving radiation treatment. However, with some types of cancer, driving may NOT be recommended due to fatigue or the effects of strong pain medication. If you are unsure, be certain to discuss with your physician.

Will I feel anything after my treatment? Are there side effects?

Many patients continue with most of their normal activities during treatment. Side effects may include fatigue, nausea, 'sun-burned' skin, or diarrhea. Your physician can discuss the likely side effects and prescribe medication for some conditions.

The most common early side effects of radiation therapy are fatigue and skin changes. These can result from radiation to any treatment site. Other side effects are related to treatment of specific areas. For example, temporary or permanent hair loss may be a side effect of radiation treatment to the head. Appetite may change if treatment affects the mouth, stomach, or intestinal tract.

Fortunately, most side effects will go away in time. In the meantime, there are often ways to reduce discomfort. If you have a side effect that is significant, the doctor may prescribe a change in your treatments or even give you a temporary break.

How long does each treatment take?

The radiation therapists will work with you to ensure you are comfortable and adequately positioned for your radiation treatment. The actual time you are exposed to radiation is typically no more than 1-2 minutes for each treatment field. Most patients are in and out of the department in less than an hour. The staff attempts to arrange the schedule to ensure that appointments are kept on time, but on some days, there may be delays because of unforeseen circumstances or emergencies.

What is the difference between chemotherapy and radiation therapy?

Chemotherapy involves medications given by injections or pills for cancer. This type of treatment is circulated throughout the entire body and is generally prescribed by a medical oncologist. Radiation therapy is produced by a linear accelerator or a radioactive source, and is prescribed by a radiation oncologist.

How does the physician know how much radiation to give me?

There are ranges of doses that are recommended for each specific type of cancer. Your case will be thoroughly reviewed by the radiation oncologist, and a customized dose and treatment field will be prescribed based on the cancer diagnosis, the cell type, and the location and stage of the disease.

Can I take vitamins and/or medications while receiving treatment?

Good nutrition is important during your radiation treatments, and taking a multivitamin at this time is acceptable. Your physician will, however, need to be aware of all medication and/or herbal products that you are currently taking, including large doses of any one vitamin. In some cases, mega-vitamins may be harmful.

Can I be out in the sun?

As a general rule, the area that is being treated with radiation, should NOT be exposed to direct sunlight for any length of time for up to 12 months after treatment. Sunscreen is highly advisable for these regions. Do not apply sunscreen on the area while undergoing treatment.

How long will I have to come for follow-up visits?

Most patients are seen by their radiation oncologist for some period of time after their treatments are completed. Your specific schedule will be determined by your radiation oncologist, in collaboration with your other physicians.

What if I miss a treatment?

If you miss an appointment during your prescribed treatment, it will extend your treatment course by a day. We strongly recommend that you attempt to make all appointments as prescribed by your radiation oncologist. Keep in mind that the treatments are generally given Monday through Friday. Weekend treatments are given in emergency cases.

Will I feel any pain from the radiation treatment?

There is usually no pain associated with radiation treatments. It is very similar to having an x-ray taken. Sometimes a sunburn effect may cause the area to be tender.

Will my insurance cover radiation therapy services?

Mercy accepts most forms of insurance (including Medicare) with appropriate authorization. You may be responsible for a portion of the balance, depending on your coverage. In addition, there are billing specialists available to answer any questions you may have.

How long will the consultation take?

Your initial visit with the radiation oncologist will take 1 to 1 ½ hours. At this time, he or she will review your records and discuss treatment options. The risks, benefits, and alternatives to radiotherapy also will be discussed at this time. If desired, your spouse and/or family member may be present during your visit.

What can be done about hair loss?

Radiation therapy can cause hair loss, also known as alopecia, but only in the area being treated. For example, if you are receiving treatment to your hip, you will not lose the hair from your head. Radiation on your head may cause you to lose some or all of the hair on your scalp. Many patients find that their hair grows back again after treatments are finished. The amount of hair that grows back will depend on how much and what kind of radiation you receive. 

You may notice that your hair has a slightly different texture or color when it grows back. Other types of cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy, also can affect how your hair grows back.

Although your scalp may be tender after the hair is lost, it's a good idea to cover your head with a hat, turban, or scarf. You should wear a protective cap or scarf when you're in the sun or outdoors in cold weather. Mercy can help arrange for wigs or hairpieces if you or your family member needs assistance.

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Mercy FAQs
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How do I get to the Mercy Medical Center campus in Baltimore?

Mercy Medical Center’s Downtown campus is comprised of three main buildings. Driving directions and parking information are available online:

The Main Hospital (The Bunting Center) is located at 345 St. Paul Place in Baltimore, Maryland.

McAuley Plaza (the former hospital) is located at 301 St. Paul Place in Baltimore.

The Weinberg Center at Mercy is located at 227 St. Paul Place in Baltimore.

What are the parking rates?

Mercy offers three convenient parking garages, interconnected to the Hospital and its main buildings.

Self-park fees at Mercy’s garages for validated patient and visitor tickets:

  • First 30 minutes: Free
  • 30 minutes - 1½ hours: $ 5.00
  • 1½ - 5 hours: $ 7.00
  • 5-24 hours: $11.00

Valet parking is available for $10 at the main entrance of:

  • The Bunting Center (Main Hospital), located at 345 St. Paul Place
  • McAuley Plaza, located at 301 St. Paul Place
  • The Weinberg Center, located at 227 St. Paul Place
How do I locate information about a Mercy doctor or a doctor who specializes in my condition?

For information on physicians affiliated with Mercy, including specialty, office location and phone number, see Mercy’s Find a Doctor pages

How do I get to the Emergency Department at Mercy Medical Center?

See information on the Emergency Department for directions, parking and additional information.

I am scheduled to have surgery at Mercy Medical Center. What do I need to know in order to prepare?

Surgical patients should bring identification and their insurance card. Valuables should be left at home. Information specific to your surgery should be sent to you by your doctor’s office. If you have questions, you should contact your doctor’s office directly.

Can I access my health information online?

Yes - Mercy provides MyChart for outpatient and inpatient health information.

MyChart offers patients online access to your health care records and gives you the ability to manage your appointments, medications and more. 

If you are a current patient and would like to sign up for MyChart, you may:

  • Use the activation code on your visit summary from your doctor’s office or hospital visit
  • Request an activation code from your doctor’s office during a visit
  • Use the Sign Up Online option if you do not have an activation code

Once you have set up your account, you will have access to your safe and secure electronic medical record and the ability to manage your health information online – this includes reviewing test results, requesting prescription refills, tracking your medication and managing your appointments. 

If you need assistance with MyChart Mercy, please call 410-332-9690.


Can I pay my bill online?

Yes, most Mercy bills can be paid online using MyChart Mercy.

I have some questions about my medical bill. Where can I get more information?

For information including types of bills you may receive, payment options and general information regarding your medical bill, please call 833-307-9138 or 410-332-7555.

Where can I find a list of charges for procedures at Mercy?

Mercy Health Services provides a list of average charges for common procedures. Actual costs will vary for each patient case. See more information about pricing here.

Can I get my prescription filled at Mercy?

Outpatient pharmacy prescriptions can be filled at Walgreens Pharmacy, inside the Lobby of McAuley Plaza. It is open Monday-Saturday. You can reach Walgreens Pharmacy at Mercy by calling 410-625-2618 or you can have your prescription faxed to 410-625-6213.

What are visiting hours?

General visiting hours are between 11:00 am and 8:30 pm, however, hours vary by floor so please check with the nursing staff or our information desk staff at 410-332-9555. Generally children must be at least 12 years old to visit patients on the floors.

How can I get in touch with a patient?

To obtain information on a patient’s room location or to be transferred by phone to their room, call 410-332-9555.

Are there places to eat on the Mercy campus?

Eateries at Mercy

Corcoran Café in The Bunting Center, Main Lobby
Open 7 days a week, 6:30 am – 8:00 pm; 12:00 am – 2:00 am
Serving brick oven pizzas, calzones, strombolis, deli sandwiches and subs, soups, salads and more.

The Bistro in McAuley Tower, 6th Floor
Open Monday – Friday, 6:30 am – 3:00 pm
Serving entrees and sides, burgers, chicken, hot subs and fries as well as soups, salads, wraps, paninis and sushi.

The Coffee Kiosk in McAuley Plaza, Main Lobby
Open Monday – Friday, 7:00 am – 2:00 pm
Serving gourmet coffee, sandwiches, fruit cups, cold beverages, yogurts, desserts and snacks.

Baggot Street Cafe in The Weinberg Center, Main Lobby
Open Monday – Friday, 6:30 am - 2:00 pm
Serving Starbucks Coffee, sandwiches, salads, cold beverages, yogurts, desserts, soups and snacks.

Mercy is also neighbor to 5-star restaurants, quaint cafés, coffee shops and bistros offering a wide selection of dishes including local seafood specialties, international cuisine and traditional American favorites. Many of these restaurants are within a 10-minute walk from the hospital. 

Is Mercy a smoke free campus?

In an effort to create a healthier environment for our patients, staff and visitors, Mercy’s downtown campus is a smoke free campus effective May 1, 2014. 

The non-smoking policy includes cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and electronic nicotine delivery devices/e-cigarettes. 

The Mercy downtown campus includes:

  • All private offices
  • All public or private restrooms
  • All entrances into the Medical Center including Weinberg, McAuley and Bunting Center circles
  • The Bunting Center grassy knoll (North of the Bunting Center main entrance)
  • The Emergency Department deck
  • All Mercy parking garages and parking lots
Does Mercy offer financial assistance to patients?

Mercy offers patients financial assistance for those who are uninsured and ineligible for federal medical assistance. Payment plans are available and/or a patient can be put on a sliding scale which would allow a percentage of assistance depending on their eligibility under current guidelines. More information on Mercy's Financial Assistance Policy

How do I obtain a copy of my medical records or birth certificate?

Medical records are managed by Mercy's Health Information Services Department. To obtain a copy of your medical records please send the below documentation to 410-332-0336 via fax, or mail the documents to: Mercy Medical Center Health Information Services, Ground Floor POB, 301 St. Paul Place, Baltimore, MD 21202.

  • Completed and signed authorization form (no electronic signatures)
  • Copy of a valid government-issued photo identification card
  • If applicable:
    • Copy of legal appointment as a personal representative
    • Copy of Letter of Administration from The Office of the Register of Wills and copy of death certificate

If you have any questions or need additional information, please call Mercy's Health Information Services Department at 410-332-9489. Requests are typically processed within twenty business days from the date of receipt. Fees apply.

For a copy of a birth, death or fetal death certificate, please contact the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Division of Vital Records, online or at 410-764-3038.

 

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