What We Do

The Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) fulfills the needs of patients who have a condition that requires the skill of highly trained, compassionate health care professionals and specialized, modern technology. We are proud to be Canada's first recipient of the Gold Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence.

As the largest unit of its kind in Canada and the third largest in North America, we care for 1,500 heart surgery patients, 30 heart transplant patients and 600 vascular surgery patients each year.

Our goal is to provide you with the best possible care, and we achieve this by working together with you and your loved ones. You are all important members of our team and your input is important to us.

What Makes Us Special

The Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) is proud to be part of Peter Munk Cardiac Centre. We are transforming the future of cardiac and vascular care for patients, both locally and around the world. We're committed to integrating excellence in clinical care, research, innovation and education.

Our team of highly specialized clinicians uses advanced training and skills to advocate and care for patients during their recovery from cardiac and vascular surgeries. We are equipped with cutting-edge technologies to best serve the needs of each individual patient.

We are also an inter-professional team who works together, using best practice guidelines and current research, to put the needs of our patients first. We are highly compassionate and respect the values and needs of patients and their families.

We are proud to be Canada's first recipient of the Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence.​

 Materials and Resources to Help You

The Patient & Family Education Program at UHN offers valuable resources to help you understand your condition.

Resources from the Patient & Family Education Program PDF Icon

* These material(s) are also available in other languages.

More information on cardiac and heart Health:

Visit our health information section.

Having Surgery?


Our team performs some of the most complex surgeries in Canada. Find out how to prepare and what to expect during and after your hospital stay by reading Your Heart Surgery guide.

Do you have questions about what to expect when visiting the CVICU, or how to participate in your loved one's care? Watch the video »

Patient & Families Services

You can also find other services throughout UHN. Learn more about patient and family services available throughout UHN.​

 Your Inpatient Stay

In the CVICU, a team of health care professionals will care for you during your stay.

We are aware of how difficult your experience may be, and we'll do our best to support and care for you and your family.

The illness and recovery process can sometimes feel like one step forward and two steps backward. The body needs time to heal. It is important to try to take one day at a time.

What to Bring

For your stay, bring the following items. If you forget to bring anything with you or if you arrive in our inpatient unit after visiting our emergency department or transferring from another hospital, a friend or family member can bring the items after you have been admitted.

Documents and Information

  • Health card (OHIP card).
  • Information about private health insurance or other health benefits. If you have private health insurance or receive other health benefits, this may help to cover the cost of preferred accommodation if you request to stay in a semi-private or private room
  • A copy of any advance directive (power of attorney or living will) you may have.
  • Contact details for other healthcare providers who have been involved in your care to help us ensure continuity in your care.
  • The names, addresses and telephone numbers of your family members, friends or other emergency contacts and your family doctor.


  • All your medications in their original bottles.
  • A complete list of medications you are currently taking, including prescription medications, non-prescription medications, vitamin or mineral supplements and herbal remedies.

Clothing and Personal Items

  • Loose, comfortable clothes to wear during the day that are easy to put on.
  • Clothes to sleep in, such as a nightgown or pyjamas and a robe.
  • Socks and comfortable shoes with non-skid rubber soles, such as running shoes. If you have limited movement in your arms or hands, we recommend bringing shoes with Velcro straps.
  • Slippers (rubber soles and closed backs are preferred).
  • Toiletries, such as a toothbrush, tissues or lip and skin moisturizer. Please do not bring any scented products.
  • Electrical supplies such as a razor or blow dryer. ​Please show your nurse any electrical items you bring, as items need to be checked to make sure they can be used safely in the inpatient service.
  • Hearing aids and batteries, dentures and eyeglasses.
  • Walker, wheelchair or other mobility aids, labelled with your name and phone number.

You may also want to bring:

  • A cell phone and/or a phone card for local and long-distance calls.
  • Small personal items, such as books or magazines.
  • A personal device for music or entertainment, and headphones or earplugs so you do not disturb other patients. Free UHN guest wi-fi is available throughout the hospital.
  • A small amount of money for newspapers, coffee or other small purchases in the hospital.
  • Anything else that will make your stay more comfortable.

We do not take responsibility for your money or valuables. If you choose to bring them into the hospital, you are doing so at your own risk.

When You Arrive

After the surgery, you will be brought from the operating room to the CVICU. The cardiovascular surgeon will speak to your family members in the 3rd floor Peter Munk Building surgical waiting area.

Family will receive a CVICU information card from the volunteer in the surgical waiting area.

The volunteer will take your family to the 2nd floor Peter Munk Building CVICU waiting area and arrange for your family to visit you.

During Your Stay

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

We believe that family members are an important part of your care. Your nurse will show your family how they can offer your special mouth and skin care, encourage breathing, and help with leg and arm exercises. You will also be shown how to communicate with you, in case they are on a breathing machine and cannot talk.

Your Treatment

After your surgery, you'll still be asleep and will not be able to talk or move. You will be supported by a breathing machine and intravenous fluids and medications. You will be getting pain medication to keep you comfortable.

Once you are warm and stable, you will be woken up and the breathing machine will be removed.

Monitoring Your Health
Your healthcare 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 healthcare team at any other time, ask the nurse looking after you.

You may have blood tests, x-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans 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.


We encourage you to have family members, friends and other supportive visitors during your stay. You are welcome to meet with visitors in your room, in the common lounge areas and in the visiting areas outdoors.

UHN hospitals offer flexible visiting hours. Learn more about visiting patients at UHN »


Throughout our hospital, you and your family and other visitors 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.

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 before you enter the hospital or if our healthcare 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 healthcare 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 your healthcare 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.

Preparing for Your Discharge

As soon as your health care team feels you are well enough, you will be transferred to the Cardiovascular Surgery Inpatient unit.

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 inpatient stay, we will give you any 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.​

 Meet Our Team

Medical Director: Dr. Jane Heggie

Nurse Manager: Meagan Eason

Patient Care Coordinators: Joe Abaday and Bridget Dopson

Many people will take part in your care. The following are those who you will meet most often.

Physicians & Surgeons

Doctors who may be contacted, as needed, to make sure the best possible care is given.

CV Anesthetist (Staff Physician)
This doctor is in charge of the unit and provides your daily medical care.

CV Surgeon
This is the doctor who operated on you.

Surgical and Anesthesia Fellows
We have 2 medical doctors (Fellows) who provide 24-hour medical coverage. A fellow or staff doctor is always available in the ICU.


Charge Nurse
Charge nurses help with the flow of patients entering and leaving the unit.

ICU Registered Nurses (RN)
This is a nurse with special training who will be with you 24 hours a day while in the ICU.

Nursing Students
UHN is a teaching hospital. All nursing students in the unit get close supervision from teachers and staff. Students will introduce themselves to you so that you know who they are.

Nurse Manager
Nurse managers are in charge of the unit and may be contacted by patients and their families, about any concerns not addressed by the bedside nurse or medical team.

Patient Care Coordinator (PCC)
The PCC helps the manager with patient care. The PCC can also be contacted with any concerns not addressed by the bedside nurse or medical team.

Health Professions

Registered Dietitians
A dietician will make sure that you receive the best possible nutrition, either through the food you eat or through a feeding tube, if you are experiencing swallowing problems.

Occupational Therapists
Occupational therapists help you to be more independent. They help you with everyday activities like eating, dressing and bathing. In the ICU, occupational therapists provide splints that prevent muscle tightening and maintain proper positioning of hands and feet.

Pharmacists give information about the medicine you're taking. They also help to make sure you have the best medicine for your needs.

Physiotherapists provide an exercise program to maintain and improve strength in the limbs and to assist in keeping the lungs clear.

Respiratory Therapists (RT)
The respiratory therapist is responsible for the "breathing machine" (ventilator) and will assess your breathing status every day.

Social Workers
Social workers can provide family counseling, assistance and support, coordinate family conferences and talk about discharge-planning options.

Spiritual Care Professionals
Spiritual care providers support patients and families of all faiths.


Patient Care Assistants (PCA)
Patient care assistants help you with your personal care needs, such as bathing, feeding and mobility. They are staff members trained by the hospital.

Volunteers manage the waiting area and help to organize visits into the CVICU. They direct your family to other areas and services within the hospital.

Ward Clerk
Ward clerks provide administrative support and are typically the first person who patients meet when arriving in the unit.

Learn more about health care professional trainees at UHN.​

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