What to Expect and Frequently Asked Questions

What is a gastroenterologist?
A gastroenterologist is a physician who specializes in the gastrointestinal tract (including the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine) and other digestive organs (liver, pancreas, bile ducts, and gall bladder).  Gastroenterologists see patients in the hospital and clinic, and also perform endoscopic procedures (e.g., upper endoscopy and colonoscopy).  All UNC gastroenterologists are board certified and highly trained.  They completed four years of medical school, three years of internal medicine residency, and between two and four years of gastroenterology fellowship. Many UNC gastroenterologists further specialize in particular areas, such as esophageal disorders, motility disorders, liver diseases (“hepatologists”), and advanced endoscopic procedures.

Do gastroenterologists perform surgery?
No.  Gastroenterologists perform endoscopic procedures, but do not perform surgery.  When necessary, they work closely with GI surgeons.

Who else is part of the UNC gastroenterology team?
UNC faculty gastroenterologists lead teams that may include gastroenterology physician fellows, nurse practitioners (NPs), physician assistants (PA), and nurses.  Sometimes they also work with psychologists, GI surgeons, and other medical specialists.

How can I get information on a particular UNC gastroenterologist or team member?
A full list of our faculty members, including their clinical focus, academic interests, and contact information is available here.  A list of current gastroenterology fellows is available here, and physician assistants and nurse practitioners here

Do I need a referral to schedule an appointment?
Yes, all new patients require a referral from a physician prior to scheduling an appointment.

How do I make an appointment?
If you are new to the clinic, your referring physician should simply fax a completed procedure request form (available here for referrals not related to liver conditions and here for liver-related referrals) to 919-966-3414.  Upon receipt, a UNC gastroenterologist will review the request and our scheduling office will call you to schedule the appointment.  If you have already been seen in the clinic within the past three years, you may schedule a return appointment by calling 919-966-6000.

Do you treat children and adults?
We take care of adult patients.  UNC pediatric gastroenterologists care for children.  Information about their clinic is available here.

What insurance plans are accepted?
We accept Medicare, Medicaid, TriCare, BCBS, and most other insurance plans. A full list is available here.

How much will a clinic visit cost?
The specific amount of these costs will vary depending on your insurance plan and the type of visit.

  • If you have health insurance your services may be subject to deductible, co-insurance, and/or co-payment requirements set by your insurance plan.  A deposit may be required at the time of service.
  • If you do not have health insurance we will ask for a $100 deposit at the initial visit and $80 at return visits.
  • If you are on the charity care plan you will be expected to bring in the co-payment at the time of service.  The specific amount is outlined in the charity care award letter that you should have previously received.

At no time do we want financial hardship to come between you and appropriate care. If you have any questions regarding this prepayment policy, setting up a payment plan or financial assistance, please contact a financial counselor at 919-966-8499. In addition, the customer service department of your insurance company will be able to provide you information regarding your out-of-pocket expenses for your procedure.

What should I bring to my appointment?
For your first visit you should bring a completed health history questionnaire (if one was mailed to you), a list of medications (including dose), your UNC hospital card (if any), and your insurance card.  You should also bring cash, a check, or credit card to cover any visit co-payments.

Where are you located?
We see outpatients in several locations, including: the GI Medicine Clinic at UNC Medical Center (directions here), the Transplant Clinic at UNC Medical Center (directions here), UNC at Hillsborough (directions here), and UNC at Meadowmont (directions here).  Please be sure to check the specific location of your appointment.

What should I expect?
At the front desk you will meet with a staff member who will confirm your personal contact and insurance information, check you in for your appointment, give you some papers to hold, and ask you to have a seat.  A nurse will then call your name and bring you (generally alone, without your family members) to the “triage” area where she will review your medications and allergies, check your heart rate and blood pressure, and ask you a few questions.  Afterwards, any family members can accompany you as the nurse shows you to the clinic exam room.

The physician will meet you and ask detailed questions about your current problems, past medical history, family history, and other pertinent information.  The physician will then confirm your list of medications and allergies, and then perform a complete exam.  A female nurse chaperone is available for your comfort.  Afterwards, the physician will discuss the plan of care, give you written instructions (including his/her contact information), possibly order tests (such as blood tests, x-rays, GI procedures, and motility tests), and either refer you back to your referring physician or set up a follow-up appointment.  You will then be brought to the check-out area where a staff member will answer any questions, collect any required payments, and schedule any tests and appointments.

How long will the visit take?
The amount of time varies depending on the type of problem.  New visits typically last between 30 – 60 minutes.  Return visits are shorter.  We value your time and try to run on time, but emergencies and unexpected events sometimes cause delay.

What if I am scheduled for a medication infusion?
We provide i
nfusions to current patients of the GI clinic in a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. We have 6 infusion chairs within the infusion suite. Patients should bring their current insurance cards, a snack, a drink and, if advised by their provider, a driver. (not all infusions require sedation or a driver). Wi-Fi is available. If you bring a music playing device, please bring a headset as the infusion area is small. Friends and family may accompany the patients to the clinic, but may not be able to stay with the patients during the actual infusion (this depends on the clinic's level of activity). Prior to scheduling an infusion we will help coordinate  insurance benefits. If your insurance changes please be sure to contact the clinic or your UNC physician/nurse so that insurance preauthorization can be obtained if needed.

What if I need a GI procedure?
We do not provide GI endoscopic procedures in the actual clinic, though there is a procedure unit near (or attached to) each clinic.  If you need a GI procedure we will help schedule it for you.  Sometimes these can be scheduled on the same day as clinic appointments.

What if I need a referral to another provider?
When indicated, our office will make referrals.  UNC is also home to top specialists in other areas of medicine, so if you need additional care, it will be available right here.

Where can I eat?
There are several dining options within UNC Medical Center and several adjacent to our Meadowmont facility.

I am traveling from out of town.  Where do you recommend I stay?
For hotels in the area, contact MedStay, a free concierge hotel reservation service for patients and their family members.  You may call and speak to a personal service team member at (877) 633-7829 or visit MedStay online
.

How can I get a copy of my UNC medical records?
This information must come from the medical records department, as explained here.

I have a question about my bill.
Please expect to receive a bill from UNC Faculty Physicians, for the physician portion of the services. In many instances, you may also receive a bill from UNC Hospitals for the use of facilities. Check your statement to see if it is a UNC Faculty Physicians statement or a UNC Hospitals statement. If it is a UNC Faculty Physicians statement, you may call 919-966-2211 for assistance with billing questions. If it is a UNC Hospitals statement, you may call 919-966-1234 for assistance with billing questions.  For additional questions or assistance, please call a financial counselor at 919-966-8499.

Who can I contact with more questions?

  • Clinic - appointment scheduling: 919-966-6000.
  • Clinic - lost or running late for an appointment:
    UNC GI Medicine Clinic (UNC Medical Center): 919-966-9341; UNC Transplant Clinic (UNC Medical Center); 919-966-5100; UNC at Hillsborough: 919-595-5957; UNC at Meadowmont: 919-843-7200.
  • GI Procedures: 919-966-5563.
  • Medical Records:  Requests for medical records should be made through the Medical Records Department (919) 966-2336.  For more information click here.
  • Question for my doctor, test results, and prescription refills:  Call your specific physician at the phone number located on their profile, available here.  You will likely speak with an assistant or be asked to leave a message.  We will do our best to return your call promptly.
  • Urgent medical issues: For medical emergencies call 911.  For urgent medical issues, please call 919-966-4131 and ask to page the GI ambulatory fellow (pager # 123-7044). After 5PM call 919-966-4131 and ask for the GI fellow on call. We are sorry we cannot answer medical questions from patients who have not yet been seen in our practice.