From the Emergency Department by stairs:
Enter the Health Sciences Centre from the Emergency Department and walk to Stairwell “M”, which will be on your right. Climb to Level 3 (one level up), exit the stairwell, and turn left to the end of the hallway. The Family Waiting Room will be on the right hand side.
From the Emergency Department by elevator:
Enter the Health Sciences Centre from the Emergency Department and walk down the hallway. The elevator will be on the left, just before the Main Atrium. Go to Level 3 (one level up), exit the elevator, and turn right to the end of the hallway. The Family Waiting Room will be on the right hand side.
If you ever have questions, you can get directions from one of our friendly volunteers at the Information Desk, across and to the right from the main doors, or if unattended, by calling the switchboard at 684-6000.
Your first and best source of information about the health of a loved one in Critical Care is the critical care nurse and intensivist.
For information about the Critical Care Unit (ICU), please contact Edie Hart, Manager by email Edith.Hart@tbh.net or by calling the Switchboard at (807) 684-6000 to direct your call.
For general questions about the Health Sciences Centre, please call the Switchboard at (807) 684-6000.
The Critical Care Unit, also known as the Intensive Care Unit or ICU, provides advanced care for patients who require close monitoring due to the seriousness of their injury or illness, or due to the fact that their condition can change quickly. Care in the Critical Care Unit is provided by an interprofessional team of care providers, which is made up of specially trained healthcare professionals including intensivists (critical care doctors), nurses, and other care specialists. (For a full team listing and their roles, please see the "Critical Care Team" section below.) Each professional brings his or her particular expertise to the team, collaborating on a plan of care and treatment for each patient, based upon his or her individual needs and conditions. The role of the team is to provide the best care possible to the patient, to update the family spokesperson throughout the patient's care, and consult with the patient's designated next of kin about the patient's care if the patient is unable to do so.
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Visitors to the Critical Care Unit enter through the Family Waiting Room on Level 3 (View the map here). This is a locked unit, so visitors are asked to be buzzed in by picking up one of the phones near the door to the unit.
We understand that this can be a very difficult time for family and loved ones. We try to be as flexible and accommodating as possible for visitors, balancing the needs of the family with the needs of the patients – as well as respecting the needs of other patients in the unit. For those reasons, we ask that you:
Generally speaking, visiting hours are from 8am to 7pm. However, these hours may be extended or reduced depending on several factors including the needs of the patient and the needs of other patients in the unit.
Visitors under the age of 12 are strongly discouraged for their own safety. Not only can the Critical Care Unit be a traumatizing experience for children, they are also at greater risk of picking up infections. Please talk to staff if you feel an exception is necessary.
A family spokesperson is usually (but not always) an immediate family member of the patient who is elected by the family to relay the information between the Critical Care Team and the entire family. This person should be someone who listens well, speaks well, tends to remain calm in a crisis, and is respected by other family members.
A spokesperson benefits the family by relaying updates and status reports on the patient’s condition to family and friends. A spokesperson benefits the patient and ICU Care Team by eliminating the time spent with telephone calls from multiple family members, and leaving more time to spend with the patient.
Once a spokesperson is selected by the family, the spokesperson’s name and telephone number(s) should be given to the Critical Care Unit nurse.
Many people are upset that we lock the door to the Critical Care Unit. However, we are not trying to make it more difficult for you to see your loved one – in fact, we do it for the sake of our patients. We promote a healing environment at the Health Sciences Centre, and that is especially important in the Critical Care Unit. Having a locked unit means fewer interruptions for nurses caring for your loved one, and reduces the traffic in and out of the unit for a quieter, more restful environment.
The Family Waiting Room is a very special place for family and loved ones to gather. It is designed to be a quiet area to wait temporarily while visiting a loved one in the Critical Care Unit. For these reasons, we ask that you:
Visiting a loved one in the Critical Care Unit can be upsetting for many people for several reasons. Patients are often connected to various pieces of equipment. Patients may be unconscious or unable to respond to you. In some cases, patients may be coming to the end of their lives.
Our staff is obviously there to help patients, but we also help family members during what is usually a very difficult time. We encourage everyone to ask questions. We may not be able to answer all questions, such as direct questions about a patient’s health due to confidentiality issues, but we will do what we can to help.
It is important to note that visitors play an important role in the healing process. Even when patients are unconscious or too weak to speak, they may be aware of a familiar voice talking to them (even if they don’t react). Try to talk normally and even touch your loved one by taking their hand or touching their arm.
Don’t be alarmed if you notice that your loved one’s hands are loosely tied to the bed rail. We do this simply to ensure that the vital equipment attached to your loved one does not get disconnected during sleep or movement.
Each room in the Critical Care Unit contains specialized equipment to help monitor patients or help them perform vital functions. It may be overwhelming to see so many tubes and equipment attached to your loved one, but they are there to help provide the best care possible.
Although noisy, the ventilator is essential for those patients who have difficulties breathing including maintaining a correct breathing pattern. Some patients may find the ventilator uncomfortable, but it is often a life-saving piece of equipment. This machine may be monitored and adjusted regularly by your critical care nurse. An alarm may sound if your loved one’s breathing pattern changes.
Feel free to talk with the patient, even if they are on a ventilator. However, avoid asking questions (and discourage the patient from talking). Just the sound of your voice will be comforting, and will help them feel connected to you.
Chances are you’ll notice many tubes and wires running from your loved one to various pieces of equipment in the room. Various electrodes and wires help monitor vital signs like heartbeat, breathing, blood pressure, and others. Intravenous (IV) tubes carry medicine, nutrients, and fluids. If the patient is unable to eat, a feeding tube helps carry liquid food directly to the stomach. Finally, a catheter may be inserted into the bladder for patients who are unable to use a bedpan.
Various monitors, often beeping or making other noises, record vital signs including heart beat, breathing, and other vital signs. These monitors may also trigger an alarm if one or more vital signs are outside of normal range. They are highly sensitive due to the critical nature of the patient’s condition, and may trigger an alarm for something as harmless as moving. Once an alarm has been triggered, your critical care nurse and/or other members of the team will come immediately to assess your loved one. If this happens, please give us room to properly care for your loved one.
Please feel free to ask your critical care nurse about any equipment and its purpose.
When a patient’s condition improves to the point that he or she doesn’t require critical care services any longer, the patient will either be discharged or moved to another inpatient unit. In some cases, the patient may have to wait for a bed to become available. During that time, the patient may be disconnected from much of the equipment. Also, other aspects of the patient’s care may change including how often vital signs are checked, the number of people caring for the patient, etc.
This is not cause for alarm – in fact, it is a good thing because it means the patient’s condition has improved to the point that he or she no longer needs to be monitored as closely.
The unfortunate fact is that for many, a visit to the Critical Care Unit is the first time patients and families discuss end-of-life care. The Critical Care Unit has developed a brochure to help patients and families through what can be a difficult process to ensure that the right decisions are being made at the right times to respect the patient’s wishes.
Technologists specially trained in obtaining blood samples for laboratory tests come to the Critical Care Unit when tests are ordered by the intensivist.
If you have any questions about the Critical Care Unit, please talk to the critical care nurse providing care to your loved one, or contact Edie Hart by email (Edie.Hart@tbh.net) or by phone through the switchboard (807-684-6000).