Community Health Center Patient Handbook
Things you need to know as a Health Center Patient:
- Insurance Information
- Making an Appointment
- Arriving for an Appointment
- Canceling an Appointment
- When the Center is Closed
- Prescription Refills
- Problems with our Service
- Medical Records
- Affiliated Hospitals
What services are available to me at Harbor Health?
The health centers accept most insurance plans including but limited to:
- Neighborhood Health Plan
- Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts
- Tufts Health Plan
- Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
- Boston Medical Center HealthNet
- Network Health
- Mass Health
If you do not have health insurance our Financial Counselors can help you apply for:
- Health Safety Net
- Commonwealth Care
- Mass Health and other state programs
Qualified individuals and their families, who can not afford medication, may be eligible for low-cost or no-cost prescriptions. For more inform, please inform your primary care provider so that s/he can assist you in accessing prescription medication.
Please bring your most current insurance card and let us know if any changes have occurred to your information in order to alleviate any billing errors. Patients are requested to have their co-pay available at the time of services rendered. The co-pay amounts are located on the patient’s insurance card.
Making an Appointment
To arrange for an appointment, please call the health center of your choice, or you can stop by and ask to speak with a Patient Access Representative.
New Patients: Once registered and to expedite treatment, please have your medical records sent to the health center.
Arriving for an Appointment
Please arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment to allow time for registration. Be sure to have your medical provider’s name, appointment time, insurance card (or appropriate income documentation) and current address and phone number available.
Bring a current list of prescription medications so that the provider has the most up to date record. Lastly, bring a list of any health concerns that you wish to discuss with your provider.
New Patients: Please arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment.
We understand that sometimes it is not possible to keep an appointment. The Community Health Centers have a 24-hour cancellation policy. Please let us know at least 24 hours in advance of your scheduled appointment or as soon as possible.
When the Center is Closed
If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911, your local emergency response number. If possible, go the emergency room at the hospital nearest you.
For all other health concerns, call the health center number and you will be connected to the health center’s answering service who will forward all calls and concerns to the provider on-call. You will be asked to provide your name, telephone number and a description of your medical concern. If you do not get a response within an hour, please call again.
The health centers have a prescription line which is regularly attended to by our nursing staff and we will see that your prescription requests are filled within 48 hours. Please call your health center directly for prescription refills.
Whenever possible, check your medication supply before coming to your regularly scheduled appointment to ensure that there is no interruption in your medication.
Many insurance plans, especially those that are known as managed care plans, require referrals. Referrals must be obtained for any services other than those rendered directly by your primary care provider. You will need to initiate these referrals as soon as possible after an appointment is made for a test or with a specialist.
Each insured person must choose a primary care physician which provides access to all other healthcare needs of the insured through referrals. Without referrals, the insurance will not pay for the visit and the cost may become your responsibility.
Normal procedure for ensuring that the referral process is easier for you is as follows:
- Read your insurance plan and become familiar with it.
- Consult your primary care physician when you have any medical problems in order to acquire referrals to specialists or tests.
- Allow at least 48 hours for the referral to be completed.
- Once the referral is completed, it will be faxed, telephoned or mailed to the physician, institution or other provider for action.
Problems with our Service
Our desire is to always provide our clients with excellent service. However, if at any time you have a less than satisfactory experience with us, whether it relates to patient care, billing, parking, access to care, or a lack of courtesy on the part of our staff, we need and want to know about it.
Your feedback matters!
To serve you better, we invite you to share any concerns and/or suggestions with any of our staff or complete our E-Customer Satisfaction Survey. If our staff cannot help you, they will be able to direct you to someone who can. Formal complaints can be lodged with our administrative department and will be responded to promptly.
Harbor Health maintains a medical record for each of its patients. The record contains a history of the healthcare provided by Harbor Health. In some cases it will contain information that has been transferred to us by another provider. Medical records are confidential and are the property of Harbor Health. Patients have the right to request a copy of their medical record and to inspect that record. Medical records are released according to the following procedure:
Proper authorization must be on file. One of the following methods may be used to request the record.
- A Medical Record Release Form can be completed.
- A release can be completed and sent to us from another facility or provider.
- A letter requesting the medical record can be prepared.
The authorization must be signed in the following manner:
- By the patient, legal guardian or legal representative. Information is not released to a patient’s husband or wife without written consent from the spouse except in cases of disability. In such case, documentation is needed.
- By the parent if the patient is under 18 years of age and not labeled *emancipated or mature minor.* Parents without legal custody of their children do have the right to the medical information about his/her child unless otherwise mandated by court order.
Only information about care given may be released. A nominal fee is charged for an immunization record and for information requested outside of the standard operation schedule.
Harbor Health’s providers are affiliated with Caritas Carney Hospital, Boston Medical Center, Tufts Medical Center, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Quincy Medical Center and Cape Cod Hospital. We admit many of our patients in hospitals of their choice and based on insurance eligibility, including but not limited to Children’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Tufts Medical Center’s Floating Hospital for Children, Massachusetts General Hospital, St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, and South Shore Hospital. In case you are admitted to a hospital where your provider has no admitting privileges, your primary care provider will be in communication with the admitting physician in order to ensure continuation of care and appropriate follow up upon hospital discharge.