What to Expect

​​In the Coronary Intensive Care Unit (CICU) a team of health care professionals will care for you during your stay and help prepare for discharge, or for transfer to the cardiology ward.

We believe that you and your family should have access to information and be involved in your plan of care. Families are invited to attend the daily rounding process in CICU, where you'll have the opportunity to listen and understand you progress, ask questions, and share your perspective.

When You Arrive

A ward clerk will meet with you or a member of your family shortly after you arrive. They will welcome you and:

  • Get your health card (OHIP card) number
  • Get information about any private insurance you may have or other health benefits you may receive
  • Get any other relevant information, such as advance directives
  • Help you get settled and comfortable as quickly as possible
  • Answer any questions you may have

During Your Stay

In order to allow our team to spend more time caring for you, we ask that you choose one (1) person to act as a spokesperson or contact person for your family. This person should be the one who will phone the CICU for updates and share this information with all the other family members and friends. CICU staff will call this person if they need to talk to about your condition or care.

While the spokesperson can speak to the medical staff at any time, we will also arrange family meetings, as necessary. These meetings will be held in the CICU at a time when everyone can join in. Family meetings provide a chance for the members of the health care team and the family to meet and talk about your progress.​

Your Treatment
The unit may seem busy with alarms sounding and machines at each bedside. All of our patients are attached to heart monitors so our staff can closely watch their status.

An intravenous line is frequently used in CICU to give medicine, measure pressures and collect blood. Sometimes patients need more than one intravenous (IV) line.

Often patients need oxygen in the CICU, which can be given through a mask, with small tubes in the nostrils, or from a breathing machine.

You may have blood tests, x-rays, ultrasounds, echocardiograms, CT scans, electrocardiograms​, or other tests performed during your stay. If we recommend that you receive any of these tests, we will discuss them with you in advance, and we will meet with you afterward to discuss the results.  

Early mobility, including moving, stretching and exercising, is important for cardiac patients in the CICU.  The nursing staff will help you to mobilize and do simple exercises.  A physiotherapist may also assess and treat you, if needed.  Family members are encouraged to get involved and help you to get moving.​

Monitoring Your Health
Your health care team will see you every day. We will talk with you about how you are doing and answer any questions you may have. If you want to speak with a member of your health care team at any other time, ask your nurse.

We know that having your family close by is important to you. Our CICU staff will do our best to accommodate visits into the unit.

When visitors arrive at the hospital, they should go to the 2nd floor waiting room and call into the unit at extension 4066. The unit clerk will check with the nurse to be sure that it is a good time to visit. No visiting after 9:00pm please, except in special cases.

The unit and patient rooms have limited space, so for safety reasons, we only allow 2 visitors at a time. Although young children can visit, they must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Learn more about visiting patients at UHN.​

Throughout our hospital, you can find a range of amenities to make your stay more enjoyable and comfortable. Learn more about amenities at UHN hospitals​.

Though these are always changing, UHN keeps a list of local hotels, bed and breakfasts and short- term rentals in the area. Some provide a discount or hospital rates. Please let the staff know if you need a copy of accommodations.

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Eating and Drinking
You will have a chance to tell us about your food preferences and allergies when you are admitted to the hospital. This information will be entered into our computer system, and your meals will take into account your preferences and allergies, as well as the diet plan specified by your doctor.

If you are taking any medications b​efore you enter the hospital or if our health care professionals order new medications during your stay, we will provide your medications at the required times.

For each medication, you should know:

  • The name of the medication
  • Why you need it
  • How much to take
  • When to take it
  • Any side effects it may cause

If you want to know more about your medications, you can ask your pharmacist, doctor or nurse at any time.

Pain Management
As your body heals, you may experience some pain and discomfort. Our goal is to make sure that you have as little pain as possible.

Managing your pain can help your recovery. Pain management can:

  • Decrease the amount of stress on your body
  • Promote healing
  • Decrease complications
  • Prevent the development of chronic or long-term pain

To manage your pain, we need to know what you are feeling. You can describe your pain on a number scale, where "0" means "no pain" and "10" means "the worst pain you can imagine." You can also describe your pain with words like:

  • Mild
  • Moderate
  • Severe
  • Sharp
  • Achy
  • Throbbing

These words can help us understand and treat your pain.

Hand Washing
It is important to wash your hands well and often while you are in the hospital. Washing your hands will reduce the chances that you will become sick or get an infection.

It's okay to ask your doctor, nurse and other health care providers to wash or sanitize their hands using a gel hand sanitizer before examining you.

You can learn more about infection control at UHN​​.

How Long Will Your Stay Be?

The length of your stay will be based on the health care team's assessment of your condition. Soon after you arrive on the unit, we will discuss with you and your family how long you will be staying.  This may be reassessed every day when the doctors complete their rounds.

Preparing for Your Discharge

We will work with you and your family to start planning early for your discharge, to help you make a safe and successful transition.

At the end of your CICU stay, we will let you know if you should be transferred to the cardiology ward for further recovery or if you can be discharged from our unit.  If you are going home we will give you discharge instructions and a prescription for any medications you require.

If you have any questions about your discharge or your care needs before you leave the hospital, don't be afraid to ask a member of your team. We are here to help you.​

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