ICU: What Exactly is Intensive Care?
The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Memorial Hospital cares for the patients with the most serious injuries and illnesses, many of which are life-threatening and need constant, close monitoring and support from equipment and medication. I recently sat down with a few folks from the department to talk about their daily lives at the hospital.
“Our job is to stabilize, diagnose and treat them,” said Pam Fraley, ICU Clinical Care Coordinator. “We always have to be able to expect the unexpected.”
Each nurse has fewer patients according to Bob Zilles, director of ICU, but each needs more intense monitoring. The nurse to patient ratio on ICU is approximately 1:2.
“We are proactive nurses—not reactive,” Melissa Miller, R.N., added.
The acuity of the patients has increased in the last year according to Zilles. With the addition of Dr. Balaa, pulmonologist, and increased use of hospitalists, Drs. John Youhas, Jennifer Brown, John Hiestand, and Hussam Elkambergy, “we are able to keep patients here at Memorial who might have had to be transferred in the past,” Bob said.
The increase in higher acuity patients has exposed the nurses to new patient care needs and protocols according to Jill Trosin, CNO. “One of the challenges of an ICU nurse is facing constant change and being able to think on your feet.”
With Memorial physician Anas Balaa, M.D.’s help, the unit is starting to use a new procedure called vasoreactivity which tests patients with pulmonary hypertension to see if they qualify for a specialized treatment. Dr. Balaa and the hospitalists provide training and mentoring regarding new procedures to help the nurses constantly improve care.
The ICU nurses are also part of the Code Team and provide support for Med-Surg by monitoring their patient monitors.
“The ICU staff is great,” Bob said. “They are constantly improving and learning to meet the needs of higher acuity patients and providing new procedures.”
Both Jill and Bob believe Memorial will continue to see an increase in patient volumes with higher acuity patients and more specialists providing care.
“There is always something new in ICU,” Jill said. “It is never stagnant.”
Photo Caption: “Pictured L to R: Bethany Wagner, R.N., Pam Fraley, R.N., Rachel Ragel, R.N., Bob Zilles, R.N., Melissa Miller, R.N. and Janet Watruba, H.U.C.”
About the Author:
Andrew Smith has been with Memorial Hospital since 2009. Andrew has previously worked in marketing and development at The University of Toledo/Medical College of Ohio. He has also taught English at Terra Community College. Andrew is a graduate of Miami University of Ohio (go Hawks!) with a Bachelor of Arts in English/Creative Writing.
He lives in Fremont with his wife Erinn and their daughters Riley and Harper.
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