When a person suffers an injury or develops an illness that is immediately life-threatening, a hospital with a critical care unit or intensive care unit is essential. Patients often are moved to this type of unit after an extensive procedure, such as open-heart surgery. Nurses who specialize in assisting CCU and ICU patients are assigned to these departments. Respiratory therapists also work there, as respiratory difficulty is quite common in these patients. These staff members commonly report to a physician who specializes in critical care and oversees the unit, such as the one at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center. This facility is a general medical and surgical hospital that is also a teaching hospital affiliated with a premier university. Up-to-date information on this particular organization can be found at www.Facebook.com/LaheyHospital/.
Patients staying in CCU or ICU may represent a broad range of serious health conditions. Severe strokes or lung disorders are examples. Patients with septic infections stay in this unit, as do persons with serious head injuries. They are all monitored closely so a doctor or nurse can act rapidly if anything goes wrong. Cancer patients and others who have undergone an operation or have developed complications from a serious disease stay here.
Nurses typically only care for a few patients at one time, and equipment monitors the heart and respiratory rates along with blood pressure. The patients may be receiving intravenous fluids to keep them hydrated and their electrolytes in balance. They also may receive medication intravenously. They may need mechanical ventilation to allow them to breathe. Catheters are in place so the patients can urinate without needing to move to a bathroom.
Family members may feel distraught when they see a loved one in this situation, and the staff members in the department provide compassionate and empathetic emotional support. Relatives of these patients often stay nearby much or all of the time since they are so anxious about the person’s condition. Once the patient has improved enough to not need this intensive type of medical supervision, he or she can be transferred to another part of the hospital.