What to Expect

​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. Your family can learn more about what to expect here.

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.

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
Our 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.

You may have blood tests, x-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans or other tests performed during your stay. If we recommend any of these tests, we will discuss them in advance, and we will follow up afterward to discuss the results.



We encourage family members and friends to visit during your stay.

Learn more about visiting patients at UHN.


Throughout our hospital, you and your family 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 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 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 in the hospital. Washing your hands will reduce the chances that you will become sick or get an infection.

It's okay to ask the 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 the condition. Soon after arriving on the unit, we will discuss the length of stay.

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 your family to start planning early for your transfer, to help you make a safe and successful transition.

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

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