What is Intensive Care?

At Johnston-Willis Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, Intensive Care, also sometimes referred to as Critical Care, is a hospital unit that provides continuous 24/7 monitoring of patients who are critically ill with life-threatening injury or diseases. Specially trained staff members in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) include doctors (sometimes called Intensivists), nurses, respiratory therapists, clinical nurse specialists, pharmacists, physical therapists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, dietitians, social workers, and chaplains.

In the ICU, patients are often connected to a host of equipment, and receive constant, personal attention. Some of the machines that can be involved in ICU patient care include advanced heart monitors, ventilators for breathing assistance, feeding tubes, and catheters. Because of the high degree of intervention associated with these devices, infections can become more common.

Important Decisions

Because patients who are in the ICU are critically ill, it is important for the patient and their loved ones to know that their wishes will be honored. Decisions regarding end-of-life care are difficult to make, and as such, we recommend that patients have an Advanced Directive on file with our hospital. This document allows patients to clearly articulate their medical wishes, should they be too sick to make choices on their own. An Advanced Directive also establishes a “healthcare proxy,” or someone who is trusted to make decisions on behalf of the patient if they are unable to do so.