What We Do

The MSNICU is a combined medical-surgical and neuroscience intensive care unit. We care for medical and surgical patients who have experienced a stroke, epilepsy, brain injury, spinal disorder, or other neurological disorders. We also care for patients who require support such as mechanical ventilation and treatment for multiple organ dysfunction syndrome.

Our refurbished centre has 24 state-of-the-art intensive-care beds and eight neurosurgical "step-down" monitored beds.

As one of the country's largest specialty neurosurgical intensive care units, we are a regional centre for patients with spinal cord injuries and neuroscience patients. We are also a provincially-designated Regional Stroke Centre, where patients requiring clot-busting drugs and other therapies are admitted to our unit for care.

What Makes Us Special

Vision: Saving lives together, caring intensively.

Mission: We are a dynamic, integrated inter-professional team providing exemplary, safe patient care in a culture of discovery, innovation, and knowledge translation.

Current Clinical Research:

COGWELL: COGnitive outcomes and WELLness in survivors of critical illness
COGWELL will be the first multisite, comprehensive study to link sleep and circadian function, rhythmic cortical electrophysiological activity measured by quantitative EEG, and long-term cognitive impairment in survivors of critical illness.

PACT: Physiological and Clinical Effects of Thoracentesis
You may be invited to participate in this study if the doctors caring for you have decided that they need to drain fluid out of the lungs, called a "pleural effusion". The decision to drain this fluid is often made with the intent of helping patients to breathe more easily and come off the ventilator sooner.

PROSPECT Pilot Trial: PRObioticts to prevent Severe Pneumonia and Endotracheal Colonization Trial
Infections are common in critically ill patients and new prevention strategies are needed. Probiotics are commercially available live microorganisms thought to have health benefits when ingested. Before probiotics can be recommended for use in critically ill patients for the prevention of infection, a large well-done study is needed.

EUPHRATES: a Clinical Trial in Adults with Septic Shock and Endotoxemia
Currently, an assay exists to determine endotoxin levels in blood but there is no FDA-approved method of removing said endotoxin. The EUPHRATES study is interested in determining the potential benefit of removing these endotoxins regarding the treatment of sepsis and patient outcomes.

Towards RECOVER: REhabilitation and ReCOVERy in survivors of Critical Illness. Long-Term Outcomes and Needs Assessment in ICU Survivors of Prolonged Mechanical Ventilation and their Caregivers.
We aim to learn more about walking ability, quality of life, and lung recovery in patients at two-years after leaving the ICU. These patients must have been on a mechanical ventilator for one week or longer.

NAVA: Neurally Adjusted Ventilatory Assist. Innovative Approaches to Mechanical Ventilation in Spinal Cord Injured Patients.
The pilot study aims to improve our understanding of the interaction between patients with spinal cord injuries and breathing machines, which will help determine what type of mechanical ventilation is better for patients with spinal cord injuries.

In the news

Our unit uses music to help our patients heal, which received attention from the Toronto Sun. Read their coverage.​

 Materials and Resources to Help You

Our goal is to work with families to provide the best possible care for their loved ones. We know that having a seriously ill friend or family member is very stressful. We will do our best to provide support. By working together as a team, we can help you and your loved one cope with this stressful situation.

The Critical Care Program at Toronto Western Hospital receives some of the most complex medical cases from across Canada. Using an inter-professional team approach, we apply both established and innovative methods to diagnose and treat patients. Research continues to allow teams to provide the most advanced therapies to patients.

In addition to providing care in our unit, an ICU Outreach program is available around the clock to all patients outside the ICU who show signs of instability.​

Resources from the Patient & Family Education Program PDF Icon

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

Learn about what to expect before, during and after your surgery, as well as preparing to return home, in UHN's surgery binder.

Patient & Families Services

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

 Your Inpatient Stay

When You Arrive

The bedside nurse is your greatest resource. They will welcome you and:

  • Tell you about the services available while you are in the MSNICU.
  • Get any other relevant information, such as advance directives, and coordinate with the most responsible physician.
  • Help you get settled and comfortable as quickly as possible
  • Answer any questions you may have

During Your Stay

Your Treatment

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.

If you are from out of town, ask for a visitor's package at the Volunteer Desk or the ICU Desk. This package has information about where you can stay, Toronto Transit Maps (TTC), and other information you may find helpful.

There is a food court in the lobby of the Atrium. It is open every day from 7:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Some of the food stalls are closed on holidays.

There is underground parking at Toronto Western Hospital (entrance on Bathurst St.) There are also outdoor parking lots close to the hospital.

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.

For mechanically ventilated and non-verbal patients, the health care team has developed ways to evaluate for pain using advanced assessment techniques. Your nurse will explain this to you.

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.

For Families

Our goal is to work with you to provide the best possible care for your loved one. We know that having a seriously ill friend or family member is very stressful. We will do our best to provide support. By working together as a team, we can help you and your loved one cope with this stressful situation.

Our Visiting Policy in the ICU:

  • We welcome visits from family and friends. Visits help the healing process of our patients.
  • Don't visit if you are feeling sick, have a cough or fever, or have vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Call the Critical Care Unit before entering the unit. Please use the intercoms.
  • Try to have only 2 visitors come at a time. In special cases, we may allow more.
  • Make sure children under the age of 12 have permission to visit from the bedside nurse. They must be with an adult at all times.
  • Please wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before entering and leaving the ICU and your loved one's room.
  • Don't bring fresh flowers, food or latex products into the ICU.
  • Remember to leave your valuables at home so they don't get lost or stolen.

Choosing a Spokesperson:

Please ask one person to be the main contact with the health care team. This person will receive updates from the team and pass the information on to family or friends.

Choosing a spokesperson reduces confusion, protects patient privacy and lets the health care team focus on what's most important - caring for your loved one. Please provide us with the name and contact number of this person.

Being present at Rounds:

Every day, the health care team talks about how your loved one is doing and how to continue their care. These meetings are called rounds. If the patient gives their consent (agrees), we welcome the family to attend rounds.

During rounds, you have a chance to:

  • Share important information with the team
  • Hear a quick update about your loved one's condition
  • And have a chance to ask questions

If you are the Power of Attorney or legal decision maker for the patient's health-related decisions, please speak to the bedside nurse if you want to take part in rounds. They can guide you through the process.

Patient confidentiality (privacy) is very important to us. Help us by keeping all information about your loved one and other patients private.

Attending Family Meetings:

Sometimes, we need to speak to you and other family members in more detail about your loved one's care. In this case, we will arrange a family meeting. These meetings give you a chance to meet many of the team members and talk about your loved one's progress. We will work with you to schedule the meeting at a convenient time for everyone.

Helping with Daily Care:

Friends and family are a very important part of the care of patients. Please speak to a member of the healthcare team about how you can help care for your loved one.

Some examples of how you can help include:

  • helping to bathe them
  • combing their hair
  • brushing their teeth
  • helping them with leg and arm exercises
  • talking with them

We can also teach you some ways to communicate with your loved one in case they are unable to talk. This is a very important and easy skill to learn.

You are an important part of your loved one's health care team, so you need to take care of yourself. Even though this is a stressful time, try to eat and sleep properly. Taking breaks away from the hospital is very important.

Remember: Your loved one will never be alone in the ICU.

How Long Will Your Stay Be?

The length of your stay will be based on your 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 your stay in the ICU may be.

Preparing for Your Transition

We will work with you and your family to start planning early for your transition out of the ICU. Once hemodynamically stable and off of mechanical ventilation, the inter-professional team takes care of your needs as you move from the ICU to an inpatient unit, home or the community.

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

 Meet Our Team

Medical Director: Dr. Jeffrey Singh, TWH Site Leader

Nurse Manager: Kim Partridge

Patient Care Coordinators: Karen Bennett & Karen Meredith, coordinate the daily running of the ICU

Nurse Educator: Rebecca Sinyi

ICU Nurse: the nurse who will be with your loved one 24 hours a day in the ICU.

Medical Resident: a doctor who will always be in the ICU. Medical residents will provide 24-hour medical care to your relative.

Critical Care Fellows: senior doctors doing further training in intensive care medicine. They supervise the medical residents. Two to Three critical care fellows work in the ICU.

Staff Physician: doctor in charge of the ICU. Every Monday, one of our staff physicians will take charge of that week.

Neurosurgical Residents: provide care for neurosurgical patients.

Consultants: other doctors who will be contacted if necessary.

Pharmacist: ensure that patients receive the right drug at the right time and the right dose. They often attend rounds and advise doctors on the best drug regimen.

Charge Nurse: co-ordinates the activities of the unit for the shift.

Patient Care Assistant (PCA): helps the nurses with patient care. Helps move patients to different areas of the hospital.

Physiotherapist (PT): provides exercise programs to help bodies become stronger and keep lungs clear.

Occupational Therapist (OT): uses splints to help joints or keep hands and feet in the proper position.

Respiratory Therapist (RT): takes care of the "breathing machine" (ventilator) and will monitor patients' breathing status throughout the day and night.

Dietician: makes sure that patients receive the best nutrition.

Speech Language Pathologist: may do a swallow study to check if it is safe for patients to eat food by mouth.

Social Worker: can provide family counseling, help and support. Can coordinate family meetings and talk about discharge planning.

Spiritual Care Providers: are available if you would like their help. They do not represent any specific religion. They work with patients' belief systems to help provide support during difficult times.

Volunteers: are available if you feel your loved one would benefit from having a visitor in your absence. Please ask the bedside nurse to contact them for you.

Medical students, residents and fellows are part of our team. Learn more about health care professional trainees at UHN.​

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