The hospital’s intensive care unit is staffed by highly skilled physicians and nurses. Patients are monitored around the clock.
When a loved one is admitted to an Intensive Care Unit (ICU), you enter a very stressful period. Critical illness can be a difficult experience for everyone involved. Although it is the patient who is ill, this situation affects you too. We wish to offer our assistance and support during this critical time.
Waiting can be frustrating. We will do our best to accommodate your wishes and minimize delays, but our priority is patient care. When possible, a doctor or nurse will speak with you about the patient’s condition and when you will be allowed to visit. The only time we do not permit visitors in the ICU is from 6 to 9 a.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. Please, no phone calls during this time. These times are important to the nurses so they get appropriate report from the outgoing nurse caring for your loved ones. The oncoming nurses also need time to do a complete assessment of your loved one and often give medications during this time frame.
While visiting hours in the ICU are liberal, the nurses will let you know when you arrive if it is a suitable time to visit. You may be asked to wait, especially if the patient has just been admitted, as there are many tests and procedures that must be completed before visitors are welcome.
Visitors are usually limited to two people at a time—consisting of immediate family and/or clergy. This minimizes stress for the patient and allows for ongoing care. Short visits are preferable.
Before bringing children to visit, consider whether their visit will be beneficial for them and the patient.
Please be considerate of other families and family members when waiting in our waiting room. Also, please do not wear strong fragrances when visiting. Patients can develop severe breathing difficulties simply from someone’s perfume or cologne.
What Should You Expect?
The patient is in the ICU because additional medical attention is needed. The ICU is a busy place. You may see lots of wires, tubes and equipment.
Monitors have alarms that signal the nurse when something needs to be checked. But alarms are not always cause for concern; they do not necessarily mean the patient is in danger. Sometimes even a patient’s slight move may sound an alarm. If you hear the alarm, rest assured that the situation is being taken care of. Each patient’s vital signs are transmitted to the master computer monitor at the nurses’ desk.
Patients in the ICU often need extra oxygen. It may be given through a face mask, ventilator or nasal cannula. The patient will be unable to speak while on a ventilator. Flash cards or a writing tablet may help with communication.
Frequent tests and treatments may be performed, and you may be asked to leave the room.
Medications can cause sleepiness, nausea or confusion. The patient may be receiving several types of medication. Let the nurse know if your loved one seems to be in pain.
There may be one or more IV (intravenous) lines and tubes in place. It is not uncommon to see an few air bubbles in the IV tubing, we take your patient’s safety seriously and monitor the IV lines and meds closely.
The patient’s hands and sometimes ankles may need to be restrained. This prevents tubes or wires from being pulling out and help prevent some patients from injuring themselves. The nurse may remove restraints during a visit. Restraints are not to be removed by anyone other than the staff in the ICU. If removed, you must stay next to the patient at all times and watch carefully so your loved one doesn’t pull out any tubes.
What Can You Do?
It is not easy to know what to say or do at the bedside of a critically ill person. It is difficult to see a loved one sick and being taken care of by strangers. You may feel anxious or uncomfortable.
Sit beside the patient and try to feel relaxed. You do not have to do anything. Your presence is a very valuable form of caring.
We recommend that one individual be chosen as the family spokesperson. Having one person receive information is helpful to the nurses. This person can communicate the information to others. The spokesperson’s telephone number will be recorded in the patient’s chart. Should there be any change in the patient’s condition, the spokesperson will be notified as soon as possible.
Nurses are present in the intensive care unit at all times. However, they may not be immediately available to speak with you. They will contact you as soon as possible. We realize you are concerned, but taking care of the patient is our top priority.
When you come to visit, please check in at the ICU nurse’s desk in the ICU. You may be asked to wait if the patient is resting or if a procedure is taking place. Please understand there may be occasions when access is delayed or restricted and these measures are in the patient’s best interest. We ask for your cooperation.