We understand the desire for family members and/or significant others to be nearby when a loved one is in our Critical Care Units. Therefore, it is our policy to allow open visiting with a few restrictions outlined below that are appropriate for a unit that cares for seriously-ill patients.
- Please limit the number of visitors to two people at a time.
- We recommend that visitors be 16 years of age and older; this helps reduce the risk of infection to the patient.
- On locked units, please use the phone on the wall outside the unit to be connected to the nurses’ station. Please identify yourself and the patient you are visiting.
- Please do not bring fresh flowers or plants to the ICU or CT-ICU. Fresh flowers may be brought to patients on the PCU and SCU.
- Please ask a staff member to assist you when obtaining items from the patient kitchen or when warming up a meal. We are more than happy to assist you.
- During nurses’ shift-change reporting period and during emergencies, we ask that all visitors either stay in their loved one’s room or in the waiting area – not the hallway – to protect our patients’ privacy and minimize distractions for our caregivers.
- There may be times when you are asked to step out of your loved one’s room for safety and privacy reasons. During these times, please wait in the waiting area, not in the hallway.
- Please do not plan to spend the night in your loved one’s room. It is important that our patients have ample time and space to rest, and that family members and friends have time to rest, eat and take care of their emotional well-being.
Recommended Visiting Hours and Quiet Time
For our most seriously ill patients in the ICU and CT-ICU, we recommend that you visit during the following times:
11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Your loved one’s care team may evaluate and adjust these times to best support your loved one’s needs and will work with your family to determine what is appropriate.
Quiet Time is between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. every day to promote rest and healing. During this time, lights are dimmed and TV volumes are lowered. We ask that you help us to promote healing by lowering your voice during this time so that patients can rest.
Cell Phones and Photography
To protect the privacy of our patients and staff members, no photography or video of any kind is permitted on any of our Critical Care units. Cell phones must be turned off before entering patient rooms. Please conduct any cell phone calls in the waiting area.
What to Expect
Having visitors can play an important role in the healing process. Even though patients may be too weak to speak, they are often aware when a familiar voice speaks to them. When you talk, try to speak as normally as possible. Feel free to touch the patient; this can be very comforting.
Don’t be concerned if you see the patient’s hands loosely tied to the bedside. These restraints are simply to ensure that equipment will not become disconnected during sleep or in periods of restlessness. Restraints are much safer for the patient than having to replace lifesaving tubes.
During your visit to the Critical Care Unit, you may notice several pieces of equipment in the room. Each of these sophisticated machines serve a specific and vital purpose. Some of the equipment commonly found in the ICU includes:
The ventilator can be noisy, and to some patients, uncomfortable. However, this machine may be life-saving. If the patient’s breathing pattern changes from the preset rhythm of the respirator, an alarm will sound. Because of the sensitivity of this machine, it may need frequent adjustment. Patients are unable to talk when on a respirator. Please refrain from asking questions that the patient may be unable to answer.
Tubes and Wires
Electrodes and wires link the patient to equipment that monitors cardiac rhythm, blood pressure and other vital signs. Intravenous (IV) tubes transport medication and nutrients. If the patient is unable to take food by mouth, a tube may carry liquid food directly to the stomach. Another tube (a catheter) may be inserted into the bladder if the patient is too weak to use a bedpan.
The monitor records the patient’s heart rhythms and other vital signs. It can be viewed at the bedside and is also at the nurse’s station. An alarm will sound if there is a change in the patient’s condition. The alarm will sometimes be triggered if the patient moves. The nurses who watch the monitors can identify the different patterns and respond immediately if there is a problem.
Taking Care of Yourself
Having a family member in a Critical Care Unit can be extremely stressful. The patient’s condition may change from one visit to the next. You may be full of hope one day, and the next day be fi lled with anxiety. It’s helpful if you can express your emotions, which may well include fear and anger. Share your feelings with our staff, other family members, friends and even other visitors. Sometimes visitors form a helpful support network for each other.
Even though you may be preoccupied with the health of your loved one, it’s important that you also consider your own health and well-being. It’s a good idea to get enough sleep, eat regularly, exercise, and spend time away from the hospital setting.
You may find comfort in speaking with the primary nurse, social services, and/or clergy member during this difficult time. If you would like to schedule a meeting with one of these trained counselors, please ask the nurse.
Our healthcare professionals are proud of the quality medical and nursing care they provide. Please remember that we consider you to be a member of our treatment team. The emotional support and encouragement you provide are equally important to the patient.