At Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center we understand that patients in our critical care area need specialized care – not only because they are very sick, but because their medical needs are unique.
In our newly renovated critical care department, we have opened five separate units – each designed to provide experienced nursing and support staff for each patient’s needs. A brief description of each unit is listed below.
Neuro ICU – NICU
This is an 8-bed unit providing care for patients with neurological symptoms, including coilings, Cerebrovascular Accidents (CVAs, also known as strokes), craniotomies and some spinal surgeries. Fort Sanders Regional received Primary Stroke Center certification from the Joint Commission in 2006.
Med-Surg – MSICU
This is an 8-bed unit providing care for patients immediately after difficult surgeries, those patients with diagnosis of pneumonia, GI bleeding, and long-term ventilator patients.
Cardiovascular ICU – CVICU
This is a 6-bed unit providing care for patients who have just had open-heart surgery. There may be other types of surgery patients in this unit also.
Cardiovascular Step-Down – CV Step-Down
This is a 9-bed unit where patients go the day after they have open-heart surgery. Patients usually stay in this unit until they are discharged home. Patients who have had interventional cardiology procedures may also be admitted to the CV Step-Down unit.
Intermediate Care – IMC
This is a 16-bed unit providing care to a varied patient population. Some patients who have been on a ventilator for an extended period of time but are stable will transfer to IMC. There will also be some post-op patients who need closer observation before transferring to a “regular” floor. Other patients who require a higher level of care for a period of time will be in this unit also.
We have the patient’s best interest at heart when we ask that only immediate family members visit. Too many visitors can quickly tire a patient.
Only two immediate family members are allowed in a patient’s room at a time; however, you may switch out during the visit. Space is limited because rooms are small and equipment is in use.
Visitors must be 14 or older. Children do not have a fully developed immune system, and patients with illness have a compromised immune system. Due to the contagious diseases both children and patients can carry, we feel it is best not to expose children to this setting.
Clergy may visit as appropriate for about five minutes. Please limit to one clergy member per patient.
Please try to visit promptly during the listed times. The nurses schedule patient care around visiting times as much as possible.
A phone is located outside the door of each unit except the IMC. Please call before entering or check with the receptionist, even during the visiting times. This is to prevent you from walking in when there may be an emergency or tests being done.
If any patient is in an emergency situation, or the unit is very busy at visiting times, you may be asked to wait.
Before you enter the patient’s room for the first time, ask the doctor or nurse what to expect.
Let the patient know you are there. They may not be able to respond to you, or they may have had a lot of medication, but a familiar voice may be comforting to them.
Do not be afraid to touch the patient. Ask for help if you are worried about bothering the equipment.
Flowers can harbor germs in the dirt or water. Two or three small arrangements are allowed in IMC. No flowers are allowed in the other critical care units.
Ask the nurse before bringing food or snacks because the patient may be on a special diet or allowed nothing to eat or drink.
Things you might want to bring for the patient:
- Shaving cream
- Denture care items
IMC: One person may stay in the patient’s room. In each room we have a chair that opens into a bed. Please have it back in an upright position by 7:30 a.m. so hospital staff can move around the room.
All other units: No overnight stay is allowed in the patient’s room. The nurses must check patients at least every two hours and more often if their condition demands closer observation. Due to the increase in activity in these units, we request that you stay in the Critical Care Lounge.
Critical Care Lounge: The lounge is located just outside of CVICU across from the Green elevators. Two visitors per patient may stay over night. Overnight passes, good for 24 hours, must be obtained from the receptionists during the last visiting time. If the receptionist is not available, please obtain them from the nurse’s station. Blankets, sheets and pillows are available; please place them in the dirty linen hamper by 7:30 a.m. Showers are also available. Family members and visitors may be contacted in the lounge by calling 331-2431 and 331-2432.
Patient confidentiality is an important legal issue. Due to changes in the Federal laws, no staff member is allowed to offer patient information over the phone unless you have the PIN number that the patient has set up.
We have a family Voice Care line that can be accessed by family members 24 hours a day from anywhere by calling 374-4551. To use it you must have the patient’s access number and the PIN number. Both of these numbers are obtained during the admission process and are given to whomever the family desires. This information cannot be obtained from the nursing staff. The nurse records updates on the patient’s condition between 3-6 am and 3-6 pm.
The Critical Care team comprises specially trained staff:
Physicians: Each patient has a primary physician (the one who admitted the patient) and may have one or more specialists consulted.
Registered nurses: These nurses are trained to meet the needs of a critical care patient, including how to operate special medical equipment. A nurse is present at all times to watch the monitors, give care and quickly assist patients. Nurses make rounds many times a day giving special care, monitoring patients’ blood pressure and pulses, and assessing lungs, heart, stomach and other important body functions. They also perform electrocardiograms (EKGs) and draw blood for lab work.
Respiratory therapists: Respiratory therapists set up oxygen, give special breathing treatments and make ventilator changes as ordered by the physician.
Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs): CNA’s help the nurses by checking vital signs, bathing patients, changing linen, answering call lights, transporting and assisting with procedures. They also perform EKGs and draw blood for lab work.
Special needs – Social Worker: If you need assistance with parking, prescriptions or anything else, ask the receptionist or nurse to contact a social worker for you.
Chaplains: Chaplains are available at any time. If you would like to speak with one, ask the receptionist or nurse to call. We also have a chapel that you may visit at any time. It is located on the lobby level.
Other Critical Care team members include dietitians, pharmacists, case manager/coordinators and physical therapists.
A local man survived the type of stroke that normally kills 80 percent of its victims. He’s doing so well, he just moved to Europe and is enjoying life to its fullest. It’s been three and a half years since Ken Harrawood suffered a stroke. It hit while he was driving to Y-12 for his first day of work with Bechtel. He now lives in Manchester, England.
Adam Hill gets the tools in place for the next life-saving surgery in the interventional radiology lab at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center. As lead tech, Hill knows this place like the back of his hand. He never dreamed he’d be a patient receiving treatment here, suffering from a ruptured aneurysm, like so many patients he’s helped treat.
Since recovering from a stroke, Paul DeWitt appreciates simple pleasures that are easily taken for granted. He grasps a cup of coffee. He smiles and laughs. He even appreciates the ability to whistle.