Intensive Care at St. Vincent's Medical Center
the Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
For ICU Visitors
When your loved one is in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), it is normal not to know what to expect. This guide is intended to help you better understand what is happening and what you can do while your loved one is in any one of our Intensive Care Units (ICUs). Open and Download our ICU Bedside Guide.
St. Vincent's Intensive Care Units include:
- Medical ICU (MICU) which can be reached by calling 203-576-5008
- Surgical ICU (SICU) which can be reached by calling 203-576-5663
What Should I Expect?
Your loved one may have multiple tubes and wires in place. Most of the devices you may see are temporary and will be removed as the patient gets better. These tubes and wires are there to help monitor your loved one at all times day and night.
Ventilators: Your loved one may be on a ventilator, also called a "breathing machine." The ventilator is a temporary machine used to assist with breathing. Your loved one will not be able to speak to you while on the ventilator because of the position of the tube passing the vocal chords.
Noises: All of these tubes, wires and machines are very noisy. Please do not become alarmed with the noises and beeps as they are all very normal sounds you will hear in the ICU.
Members of the ICU healthcare team
You may see many staff members entering your loved one's room. They all play an important role in delivering the highest standard of care to your loved one.
- Attending physicians actively participate and supervise the care of your loved one.
- Residents are doctors who are working in collaboration with attending physicians as part of their training.
- Registered nurses care for your loved ones at the bedside around-the-clock.
- Respiratory therapists manage breathing needs and oxygen requirements
- Case managers organize care and help assess discharge needs.
- Social workers support the patient and family during hospitalization and in planning discharge.
- Pharmacists process medications ordered by the physician.
- Nutritionists assess and care for nutritional needs.
- Secretaries serve as the means of communication between families and staff.
Visiting a patient in ICU
Although visiting is permitted around the clock for immediate family, there are certain times during the day that we encourage quiet time to promote a restful healing environment for your loved one. Please talk to the nurse for more details.
Suggested family guidelines:
- Please go to the Family Lounge first and using the phone on the left-hand side of the wall, call the ICU nursing station to visit your loved one.
- A maximum of three visitors at one time are allowed.
- We highly recommend that children under the age of 15 do not visit in the ICU.
- No food or beverages are permitted in the patient rooms.
During the ICU stay
Get and stay organized
This will help decrease the anxiety often associated with hospital stays. We recommend purchasing a small notebook to keep at the bedside or with you at all times.
In a notebook, you can keep track of
- The names of your healthcare team
- Important numbers and information
- Information regarding medications - amounts, reasons for, and times of administration
- Questions that may arise as you visit your loved one that you can later ask your healthcare providers.
Communicate with family and friends
It's natural for family and friends to want to know the latest status of the patient and see how you are holding up. You may want to consider.
- Writing emails that can be sent to a specific group of people all at one time.
- Creating a designated and confidential Facebook group that you can invite people to have access to group
- Creating your own free CARING BRIDGE website to provide ongoing updates to friends and family.
Delegate these tasks
These tasks can be delegated to someone in your family who can dedicate time and energy to communications and providing ongoing updates. This will help decrease the number of phone calls and individual email you receive and keep you from having to retell the same news or story time and time again.
Keep your faith and hope strong
Please don't hesitate to contact our Pastoral Care department for support as needed. Be encouraging while speaking to your loved one. If your loved one is not alert, always start your visit with your name. Talk to your loved one and let him/her know what is happening. Read cards that have been sent. All of these things help with recovery. Patients receive cues from you. If you are rested and seem positive, they will be positive too.
Using the communications board
A white communications board and a "Get to Know Me" board in each room allows for two-way communication between staff and families. The boards will help families to identify individual caregivers and also enable staff members to get to know your loved one. The white board will display the name of the RN caring for the patient on the current shift and will also have a set of daily goals for the patient. For the "Get to Know Me Board," you are welcome to bring in photos and fill in any information that will help us to become familiar with your loved one.
Identifying a care partner
It is beneficial to the patient, family and staff if you can identify a Care Partner to serve as the primary contact for communication and decisions regarding the patient. This individual will have greater access to information on the patient's progress and will partner with staff members and physicians to ensure the most effective plan of care. This person will be encouraged to contact all relatives and friends who need to be reached each day for an update on the patient's condition.
Please see our suggestions above on how to ease this burden. This will help to lessen the calls placed to staff members and will allow them to spend more time at the bedside. Please ask your nurse for more information on becoming a Care Partner or read more on Care Partners here.
To find a St. Vincent’s physician who can discuss your health concerns or those of a loved one, please click on our FIND A DOCTOR tool and search by specialty, practice, location or keyword. We’re here to help you locate the medical expert you need.
To speak with a St. Vincent's Care Line representative, call (877) 255-7847
To speak with somone at the front desk of the Medical Center, please call (203) 576-6000
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