Having a loved one in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) can be stressful and exhausting for family and friends. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by worry and concern, and confused by all the unfamiliar medical equipment and terminology. The ICU staff at Marin General Hospital provide your loved one with the best possible care, and are also here to help you. If you have a question, concern, or special request, please don’t hesitate to ask.
We accept visitors in the ICU any time other than during shift changes, which are:
- 7:00 – 8:00 am
- 10:00 - 11:00 am
- 3:00 - 4:00 pm
- 7:00 – 8:00 pm
The nurses are updating each other about patients’ conditions during these times. To respect patients’ privacy, we may ask you to step out. Also, please group non-emergency requests before or after change of shift.
Visiting is generally limited to immediate family members and significant others. Also, we ask that no more than three people visit at a time. Please keep visits short, as rest and sleep are very important for patients in the ICU. Children under 12 are allowed to visit only if it is approved by the nursing staff in advance. Overnight stays in the patient's room or the waiting room are not permitted (except for parents of critically ill children).
When You Arrive
It is important that you let us know you are here. When you get to the ICU waiting area, please use the phone on the wall and you will be connected to the nurses' station. Most of the time, we will let you right in. If we are busy with your loved one, we may ask you to wait in our waiting room for a few minutes. To get into the ICU, go around the corner to the double doors. Do not push the doors open. Instead, push the big button before and to the right of the doors, and they will open.
Calling for an Update
When you are not at the hospital, you can call us to ask about how your loved one is doing. In order to give our nurses maximum time with their patients, we ask that you designate a point person to call us so we don't receive multiple calls for the same patient. The point person can then update loved ones as needed. Please call any time other than shift changes (7 – 8 am and 7 – 8 pm).
Inside the ICU
Be prepared to see lots of wires, tubes, and equipment. The nurse will explain them to you. If you hear some alarms go off, don’t worry. This lets the nurses know that something needs to be checked. Don't be surprised if your loved one looks or acts different than usual. This may be caused by their medical condition or medications. If you have questions or don't understand something, please ask a care team member.
Dos and Don’ts
You may think there is nothing you can do while your loved one is here, but there is actually a lot you can do to help. Please DO...
- Bring us any documents pertaining to your loved one’s wishes for their own care, such as an advanced health care directive or living will.
- Compile a list of medications your loved one has been taking and share it with us.
- Check in with your nurse each time you come to visit. The nurse can tell you how the patient is doing, how long you should stay, and how much stimulation the patient can take. Music, get well cards, and family photos are comforting for some patients, but sometimes, patients just need a quiet visit and lots of rest.
- Designate one family member to be a point person between the family and the Marin General Hospital staff. This helps protect the patient's privacy and streamlines the communication process so one person has the latest updates. That person can be the spokesperson for the family as well.
- Leave updates about the patient’s condition on your voicemail. You can change the message every day and relieve yourself of the burden of returning all those calls.
- Keep your visits short. Patients need rest and sleep. Sitting quietly in the room is a good thing to do, as it provides the comforting presence of a family member. Your nurse can usually lower the side rail of the bed for you.
- Remind your loved one what day it is and why they are here. Sometimes, patients get confused, forgetful, excited, or angry. This can be due to the illness, unfamiliar surroundings, or the medications they are taking.
- Check with the nurse before giving your loved one any food or drink , including water! It could be medically inappropriate and even dangerous.
- Take home any valuables or medications the patient may have brought with them.
There are also a few things you shouldn't do. Please DO NOT...
- Wear perfume or cologne; people during illness are often sensitive to stronger smells.
- Bring flowers. They carry pollen and bacteria that could make your loved one's illness worse. Please discourage others from bringing flowers as well. Balloons and posters are good alternatives
- Use a cell phone in a patient’s room. Please make sure they are turned off when you are visiting. If you need to make a phone call, you can step out to the waiting area or main lobby of the hospital.
- Remain in common areas outside of the patient’s room. Medical staff frequently need to discuss patient test results and care plans at the nursing station. In order to protect the privacy and personal health information of our patients, we ask that visitors remain either in their loved one’s room or the waiting room.
- Hesitate to talk to us. Please share any questions and concerns with the nurse or a care team member.
Take Care of Yourself
It is normal to feel worried, tired, and anxious when someone you care about is in the ICU. Your love and support are important for the patient, but you need to stay strong physically, as well as mentally and emotionally, for them and yourself. Remember:
- Exercise if you can.
- Eat healthy foods.
- Take breaks when you are tired.
- Find a peaceful place to sit and breathe deeply.
- Visit in shifts, so that you can go home and rest.
If you need a break, we have a couple of quiet places to take some time to yourself:
- Meditation Room – This is on the second floor, near the surgery waiting room. You can go there to pray and relax.
- Meditation Garden – Near the main entrance, there is a quiet place surrounded by trees and benches.
- Take a stroll down the walking path that starts across the street from Marin General Hospital and goes along the Corte Madera Creek.
If you are upset and need to talk with someone, we have a hospital chaplain available at all times. We have dining options in the hospital for you as well as accommodations nearby for out-of-town visitors.