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What is an Intensive Care Unit (ICU)?

The Centinela Hospital 29 bed intensive care unit (ICU) is the area of the hospital where the most seriously ill patients are cared for by specially trained staff. The staff consists of doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, nutritionists, physical therapists, pharmacists and social workers. They work closely together as a team to provide the best possible care to our patients. There are two things that make care in the ICU different than in a regular hospital care area. These are the nursing support and the special type of equipment in use. ICU nurses are specially trained to care for the most ill patients. There are more nurses for patients than on regular hospital units. The second thing that distinguishes an ICU is the use of advanced technology. The ICU team uses a number of specialized machines and devices, called monitors, to frequently check the heartbeat, blood pressure and breathing of a patient. While it can be overwhelming to see so many machines, wires and tubes, each does its job to help the patient.

Who is cared for in the ICU?

Many different types of patients are admitted to the ICU. Some come from the Emergency Department, some from other units within the hospital because of complications from their illness. While there are many different types of patients in the ICU they all need the same thing - constant observation and specialised care. (click here to see some common illnesses of critically ill patients).

What are all of the machines doing?

When you first come into the ICU one of the things that you may notice is the amount of equipment and machines attached to the patients. In the ICU, many machines, devices, and procedures are used which are relatively uncommon in other parts of the hospital. Each device has a particular job or purpose. There are reasons to use each device or procedure for assessment or treatment. (click here to see a partial list of equipment and medical procedures found in the ICU)

Who are all these people working in the ICU?

There is a team of highly trained doctors, nurses and other health care professionals working in ICU. Among them are intensivists, specialized doctors that treat only the most critically ill patients. In addition, a critical care nurse is usually assigned to care for one or two patients at a time in the ICU and has constant access to information about the patient.

Respiratory therapists are available to provide a wide range of therapeutic and diagnostic services to patients with heart and lung disorders. Respiratory therapists are involved in the evaluation and monitoring of heart and lung function as well as giving treatment.

Social workers can help with care for family members, discuss financial resources and assist in making plans for the future care of patient after leaving the ICU.

Dietitians ensure the patient is getting all their nutritional requirements.

Pharmacists provide medicines and provide the ICU team with detailed information and instructions on the medicines.

Who can find out how the patient is?

Privacy is always maintained concerning the care of the patient. Information is given only to the immediate family members and other enquiries are directed to the family.

Who and when can we visit our friend/family member?

Visiting is restricted to immediate family members only, however if the family wishes other people to visit the patient, please speak to the nurse first. Visiting hours for the ICU are the same as the hospital visiting hours, however ICU patients may have immediate family visit at anytime. Please do not bring children without speaking to the nurse first.

Can I bring flowers or gifts?

Flowers are not allowed in the unit, but greeting cards and photos of friends/ family or a familiar item for the patient to look at are very welcome.

When are patients transferred out of the ICU?

Some people may think that staying in the ICU for a longer period of time is better than moving to another hospital unit. However, the ICU is designed to care for only seriously ill patients. So, when a patient is improving and moving towards recovery, he/she will be transferred to the next level of care that meets his/her individual medical needs.