Kim Sweeney, RN, MBA, Vice President of Patient Care Experience, shares the top 10 ways to prepare for your first visit to Roswell Park.

Your First Visit to Roswell Park

Before Your Appointment

Appoint a healthcare proxy in advance

To ensure you receive the medical care you want when you can no longer speak for yourself, we ask you to name someone you trust to make your healthcare decisions. You should appoint this person, called a healthcare proxy, while you have the ability to make informed healthcare decisions.

Your doctor is the only person who can determine whether you have lost the capacity to make healthcare decisions. Another person will make those decisions for you only after your doctor has made this determination. Learn more from the New York State Health Department.

We encourage you to complete a healthcare proxy form to include in your medical records at Roswell Park. If your wishes change, you can complete a new form; we can provide copies for your other doctors and healthcare agents. Our social workers can assist you with the form. Call 716-845-8022. Forms also are available through the New York State Health Department.

If you do not complete a healthcare proxy form, New York State law specifies who will make those decisions for you. A family member is the first person who will be asked to be your surrogate; here is the descending priority list of who will be asked to be your patient surrogate:

Advance directives

Learn about other advance directives you may want to consider.

  • your spouse, if not legally separated from you, or your domestic partner (A domestic partner is a person who lives with you, depends on you for support, shares the ownership of a house, income, or expenses, is raising children with you, and/or plans on getting married to you. A domestic partner is recognized as your partner by a government agency or an employer and/or is covered under your employment benefits or health insurance. Certain people cannot be considered domestic partners. This includes anyone under the age of 18 as well as extended family members of you or your spouse.)
  • a son or daughter, 18 or older
  • a parent
  • a brother or sister, 18 or older
  • a close friend (A close friend is anyone 18 years or older who has been in regular contact with you, and who is familiar with your activities, health, and religious or moral beliefs. To be a surrogate, your friend must present a signed statement that explains how he or she fulfills these criteria

Sign up for the MyRoswell Patient Portal and download the patient app

Go to to register and log your information. Be sure to list any medications you take and physicians you see. If you need assistance, please call 1-800-767-9355.

Whether you’re a patient or caregiver, you can take care of all these things with the free MyRoswell mobile app. You’ll find the support you need — from your first appointment through survivorship — at any time, no matter where you are.


If you are scheduled for a long procedure or hours of infusion, we recommend you arrange for childcare or reschedule your appointment if your sitter cancels. However, if you are having a quick checkup, you may bring your child or children. Please be sensitive to other patients who may consider crying babies and active children as disturbances.

Write down questions in advance

We recommend you bring all questions and concerns you want to address. Also, bring a pen or pencil or smartphone to take notes. Please ask questions if you do not understand something. If you would like to take home information, ask your doctor for handouts, brochures or online resources.

Financial assistance

Our financial assistance program is available to Roswell Park patients who have difficulty paying for services. Learn more about financial assistance online or call 716-845-4782.

What to Bring

What you need to know before your first trip to Roswell Park.

Insurance information

Please bring your health insurance identification card and referral if required. If you don't have health insurance or have questions about your insurance, call 716-845-4782.

For health insurances we accept, please view the full list and scroll to “View health plans and networks.”

Please be prepared to pay your health insurance co-pay on the day of your visit.


Bring your prescription insurance and discount cards, including EPIC, Medicare-D and PACE.

Disability forms assistance

Call the Health Information Management Department for help with disability insurance forms:

For Social Security benefits questions, please call 716-845-5969.

Medical records

If you haven’t sent them to us already, please bring all pertinent healthcare records to your appointment. We gather this information before you arrive, so your doctors may review it ahead of your appointment. We may ask you to bring copies of lab results or a disk of your diagnostic images with you.

How to request medical records from Roswell Park

Download and print form, fill in information return to us via mail or fax:

Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center
c/o Health Information Management
Carlton Building Rm 107
Buffalo, NY 14263
FAX: 716-845-8394

Requests will be processed in 7-10 days of receipt. Please note there may be a copy charge.

Download the authorization to release medical information from Roswell Park

How to release medical records to Roswell Park

To authorize a request for your medical records to be released to Roswell Park, please download and complete the form below and return it to us via mail or fax to new patient scheduling at 716-845-3592.

Download authorization form to release medical record information to Roswell Park

List of medications

We will want to know all medications you are taking, including vitamins, minerals, herbal or natural substances and over-the-counter medications, such as pain relievers and allergy pills.

Preferred pharmacy

Please let us know if you have a regular pharmacy; you can provide its name, address and telephone number during your initial visit. We have a specialty pharmacy onsite for convenient pick-up of your cancer-related medications.

List of allergies

Please tell us if you have any allergies, including allergies to latex, iodine or seafood.

List of physicians

We will need the names, addresses and telephone numbers of any doctors you have seen in the last year so we can inform them of your healthcare status. If you would prefer to exclude any of them from receiving status reports, please tell your Roswell Park physician.

Pathology reports and lab results

A diagnosis of cancer can be complex. Our pathologists are experts in various types of cancers and help us to better target your care. Between 11% and 18% of the second opinions we provide patients from outside Roswell Park involve a change of diagnosis. Therefore, we may want to run additional tests or redo your blood tests. Lab test results are positive, negative or inconclusive; your doctor will explain your results.

Diagnostic radiology

Our advanced clinical imaging tools help our physicians detect cancers earlier and more precisely. Your physician may want Roswell Park colleagues to take additional images to assist in making a more knowledgeable decision based on your type of cancer.

Bring support

We highly recommend for your first visit that you bring a family member or friend who can take notes and provide support for you.

The Day of Your Appointment

Dress comfortably

We recommend you dress in comfortable, loose clothing that is easy to take off and put on. You may be asked to change into a medical robe for your examination.

Wait times

We appreciate your patience if we keep you waiting longer than you expected. In some cases, other patients require additional attention. Be assured your doctor will make every effort to see you as soon as possible.

Look for volunteers in blue blazers for assistance at Roswell Park
Need to find your way?
Look for our directory on the ground floor by the elevators. If you need additional assistance, the volunteers at the Information Desk or in the blue blazers will be glad to help.

To enter the hospital

The main entrance on Carlton St. opens to the hospital lobby on the ground floor. The transportation staff will get you a wheelchair if necessary. Validate your parking ticket at the Information Desk in the lobby. The staff there also will help visitors find a patient’s room or check a patient’s status.


Next, check in at the registration area in the lobby. A patient access staff member will greet you and confirm you have brought radiology films or slides and a list of your physicians. You will be given a pager to alert you when your patient access representative is ready to meet with you. The representative will then:

  • ask for your health and prescription insurance information
  • provide you with healthcare proxy and advance directive forms, if you need them
  • direct you to your appointment

If you have questions regarding health insurance coverage or discounted rates, ask to speak to a financial counselor.

Get blood tests if required

The patient access representative will let you know if you need blood tests and direct you to the Phlebotomy Department in the north clinic hallway on the ground floor. Access to this hallway is through the set of double doors just beyond the main public elevators.

Proceed to your designated center

The letter you received from us tells you which ambulatory center to proceed to in the hospital (first, second or third floors) or the Clinical Sciences Center. Staff members and volunteers can give you directions and assistance. At the center, check in with the receptionist, who will let your nurse know you have arrived.


If you would like to visit other areas of the hospital while you wait, ask the receptionist for a pager. You will be notified when your doctor is ready to see you.

Language and hearing impaired assistance

We offer specially trained medical interpreters who can provide language and American Sign Language translation for our patients. To schedule and interpreter for your appointment, talk to the new patient scheduling staff or call our Social Work department at 716-845-8022.

Meet your healthcare team

Before you meet with your doctors, your nurse will conduct an assessment examination, asking about your medications, allergies and symptoms. The nurse may then direct you back to the waiting room and will call for you when an exam room is available.

In the exam room, you will meet your nurse practitioner or physician assistant first, then your doctor. Your doctor will review your medical history, perform a physical examination and review your diagnostic test results. He or she will discuss your treatment options and answer your questions. If you need more tests, the center staff will assist you in scheduling them.

Next steps

Your doctor also will explain the next steps in your treatment process. This may include additional doctor visits as well as chemotherapy, radiation or surgery. Whatever the next steps are, your doctor will arrange and monitor your care, and be available to answer questions. If you need to change your doctor's appointment, call your center.

When you have questions

If you have questions about your cancer care at Roswell Park, call your center. On evenings, weekends or holidays, call 716-845-2300 and ask to speak to the physician on call for your center.