To enter the ICU:
Please use the intercom outside the unit door to enter the ICU. Because people are so sick in the ICU, the doors are always locked to secure privacy for our patients.

Visiting Hours:
Visitors are welcome to visit any time of the day or night with the exception of nursing shift change (occurring twice daily between 7 and 7:30, a.m. and p.m.) After normal hospital visiting hours (6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.), ICU visitors must receive a special badge from the front desk of the hospital. Families are encouraged to participate during daily rounds, beginning at 9 a.m.

Waiting Areas:
There are waiting rooms for your use outside of the ICUs.

There are two restrooms available in the hallways outside the unit.

Main Cafeteria
Open 6:15 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Located on the ground floor

Panera Bread
Open 6 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Located in the Physicians Office Building

Wi-Fi available:
See resource nurse

There is a discount parking option available. This may be purchased in the parking office outside of the main entrance. You can use one of the two options below:

  • Validation stickers are sold in books of 10 for $40.00 per book
    • Each entrance/exit into the garage requires one validation sticker.
    • The sticker will allow you to park for up to 24 hours
  • A "10 day keycard" can be purchased that will allow unlimited access to enter and exit the parking garage.
    • The cost is $45.00
    • There is a $5.00 deposit fee that will be refunded when the keycard is returned to the parking services office.

Flowers and mail:
Unfortunately, flowers and plants are not allowed in the ICU because some of our patients will get very sick with them around. However, cards, balloons, pictures, and letters are welcomed and encouraged.

Valuables and personal belongings cans be brought home by family members or can be sent to sercurity for safekeeping. We encourage leaving glasses, dentures, and hearing aids at the bedside.

Cell phone use:
Please do not make calls from your cell phone in the ICU rooms as this may affect the machines used in the ICU. Cell phone calls can be made from the hallway and waiting rooms.

Children under the age of 12 years old are not allowed in the ICU due to safety reasons.

Resources for Families:

Do you have ideas about how to we can take better care of our patients? Would you be interested in joining the Patient & Family Centered ICU Committee? For more information, or to sign up, please email [email protected], call 202-877-3904, or visit our website:

For general information on critical care, please visit 

Resources for Patients and Families:

Keeping a Blog or Diary: We recommend keeping a diary or blog about your family's journey and experience of critical illness. An ICU Diary can be helpful for family to keep track of important events during the course of a loved one's illness, and later on can help pateints who have "fuzzy" memories of their hospitalization. Please ask your doctor or nurse about keeping an ICU Diary. A blog can be helpful for cloes family and friends to share u pdates, and can help families get the support they need from their communities. is a great resource for patients and families.




Who gets admitted to the intensive care unit?
People with life threatening illnesses and who require special monitoring are admitted to the ICU. The ICU is specifically built to allow closer and sometimes more invasive monitoring.

Can I spend the night in the intensive care unit?
We simply do not have the space to allow family members to spend the night in the ICU. The waiting rooms are open all day and night, but we encourage family members to go home and rest after visiting.

Why are restraints used on arms and/or legs?
Soft restraints are sometimes used to make sure essential equipment is not pulled out. This equipment is important for monitoring and treatment. Every effort is made to minimize the use of restraints, and the team re-evaluates daily whether restraints are needed.

Why do alarms keep going off?
We use a lot of special monitoring equipment in the ICU. You will often hear alarms beeping. The staff is always listening and monitoring, and they are trained to know when to respond to alarms.

Where do patients go once their condition no longer requires the ICU?
Depending on the level of care required, patients can be transferred to an intermediate care unit, a medical or surgical floor, a long term care facility, or even home. Care will be continued by other health care professionals.

Who may ask for information about the patient's condition?
To improve communication and to protect patient sensitive information, the ICU team would prefer that the family chooses one person to be the spokesperson for the family. This individual will be the contact person so that we can provide timely updates. This person may speak with the staff anytime day or night. The spokesperson will be the only one given information over the phone. This will also help ensure that private information is not provided to the wrong person/people.

Who should the spokesperson ask to find out how the patient is doing?
The nurse will tell you the general conditions of the patient. If there are any medical questions, please ask to speak with one of the doctors. You can also set up a family meeting at a scheduled time. Social workers are available to answer questions about insurance and discharge planning.

What can I do to help my loved one?
We encourage family members to be involved in patient care. You are welcome to pray, hold their hand, or rub their feet. Please ask your nurse if there is anything else you can do.

Can I be there when the doctors are discussing my loved one?
Families are invited to participate in team daily rounds, beginning at 9 a.m. Although much of the discussion is highly technical, it can be a good way to get a complete picture of how your loved one is doing and what the plans are. At the end of the team's discussion, the family spokesperson may ask a question, depending on the time constraints of the team. If there is not enough time for questions during rounds, a team member will arrange another time to meet with you to discuss your questions.




Definition of Terms

  • Role Definition
    • Resident: A physician who has completed medical school and is currently in training.
    • Fellow: A physician who has completed residency and is currently in training for a specific specialty (i.e. Critical Care).
    • Attending: A physician who has completed specialty training and is board certified or board eligible. This is the “team leader” in our Intensive Care Units.
    • Advanced Practice Provider: A Physician Assistant or Nurse Practitioner.
  • Rounds: A bedside conference with the medical team (including physicians, APPs, respiratory therapists, and nurses) during which the patient’s history, reason for requiring critical care, current problems, test results, and treatment plans are discussed. A representative of the patient (either appointed by the patient or the legal next of kin) may attend rounds with the team. At the end of the presentation the family member may ask questions or provide additional information to the team. If more in-depth discussion is needed, a family meeting is arranged.
  • Catheter: A tube placed in the body to administer or drain fluid. Examples: A catheter located in the bladder to drain urine (called a Foley catheter) or in a vein or artery (to deliver medications and fluids, monitor blood pressure, or obtain blood samples).
  • Ventilator: A machine, connected to the patient via a “breathing tube” located in the patient’s throat, that moves air in and out of a patient’s lungs.
  • Dialysis: An artificial way to remove waste and water from the blood in the event of kidney injury or kidney failure. Dialysis can be performed at the bedside in the ICU and is not always a permanent therapy.
  • Intubation: The process of putting in a breathing tube to help with breathing.
  • Extubation: The process of removing a breathing tube.
  • Central line: A large intravenous (IV) line that is placed to allow for the delivery of specialized medicines. Blood can also be drawn from this line.
  • Vasopressor: Medicine that is given through a central line to increase blood pressure.
  • NPO (Nothing per oral): When eating is dangerous, we will write an order for no feeding by mouth.
  • AND (Allow Natural Death)/DNR (Do Not Resuscitate): When someone's heart stops beating, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (pressing heavily on the chest) is withheld to allow natural death.
  • Advanced Directive: Advanced directives are a set of instructions that state your wishes regarding healthcare. They should address all aspects of life support so medical staff members are aware of your wishes should you become unable to voice your desires. If an advanced directive is not made, Maryland law allows someone else to make medical decisions for you. If no one has been chosen to decide treatment issues, the closest relative may be asked to make these decisions. In instances where no one is available, the court may appoint a guardian. If you have an Advance Directive, please make sure to share it with your medical team. If not, we will be happy to provide you with one to complete at your request.
  • Palliative Care: Health care that focuses on reducing pain and suffering at any stage of a person's illness.
  • Spiritual Care: Care that focuses on the spiritual needs of patients and families. There is a spiritual care advisor available 24 hours a day.
  • Shift change: Nurses change shift and give report between 7-7:45 a.m. and p.m.