Intensive Care Unit

Critical Assistance
The hospital's intensive care unit is staffed by highly skilled physicians and nurses. Patients are monitored around the clock.

SGMH understands . . .

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 - 9 AM and 5 - 7 PM. Please, no phone calls during this time.
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 (2) 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.

Our ICU waiting room is small, with one local calling phone. Please be considerate of other family members. 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. 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. Don't worry if you see an air bubble in the line. All lines and tubes are closely monitored.

The patient's hands (and sometimes ankles) may need to be restrained. This prevents tubes or wires from being pulling out. The nurse may allow you to remove restraints during a visit. If so, you need to 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 use the phone in the ICU waiting room, and call extension 6111, and identify yourself and the patient you wish to visit. You may be asked to wait if the patient is resting or if a procedure is taking place. Please understand that there may be occasions when access is delayed or restricted and that these measures are in the patient's best interest. We ask for your cooperation.

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