Intensive Care

The Department of Intensive Care is situated on level one of the Parkside block, Christchurch Hospital.

We are divided into two clinical care areas: Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU), both are cared for by the same nursing and medical staff. When you arrive please pick up the red phone by the entrance of the door and we will answer as soon as we are able to.

  • Visiting hours in intensive care are unrestricted. If you are unable to enter intensive care it may be because your relative/friend is having a procedure, linen change, or being reviewed by the doctors or physiotherapist. We will bring you through to intensive care as soon as possible. Visiting may be restricted to whanau and close friends. Please discuss any special needs you may have regarding visiting to enable us to assist.
  • Any visitor who is unwell with a cold or infection should discuss this with the nurse before entering intensive care, it may be necessary for you to wear a mask or avoid visiting at this time. •
  • The doctors ward round starts at 10.00a.m. You will be asked to not visit during this period to allow the round to be completed uninterrupted.
  • Intensive care nursing and medical staff will keep you updated with your relative/friends condition each time you visit.
  • If you require further information about your relative/friend we can arrange a family meeting to allow time for further questions and explanations. This may include your whānau, medical, nursing staff and a social worker.
  • Fresh flowers are not allowed in intensive care as they are a hazard around electrical equipment and the water can grow bacteria which can spread infection.
  • Please wear shoes in intensive care for safety.
  • Children must be supervised at all times.

The waiting room provides tea and coffee making facilities. These rooms are small and shared with other whanau. Toilet facilities are opposite the waiting rooms. Phones are available in the waiting rooms; you will need to dial “1” for an outside line.

Please let us know if you need to contact whanau or close friends outside Christchurch and we may be able to assist, alternatively return to the main entrance for the public telephones.

There are two cafeterias available within Christchurch Hospital – “The Coffee Shop” in the hospital concourse and “Café Great Escape” located on the 1st floor of Parkside West.

These are available for meals and snacks.

There are pay and display parks on the hospital grounds managed by the Christchurch City Council. There is also a parking building in Antigua Street. We can assist by providing parking coupons or a concession rate if required for an extended time period. Please ask a member of staff for this.

Wi-fi access for your tablet or mobile phone is free and for available to all patients. 

The Department of Intensive Care has an ongoing commitment to research and quality improvement. Involvement in research activities enable us to participate in the broader Intensive Care community to ensure that we continually improve the care we provide.

You may be approached by a member of our staff to consider agreement on behalf of your relative/friend, for permission for participation in a research study. Before enrolling in any research you will be given a detailed explanation of the research to enable you to make a decision. Participation in any research is voluntary and the care that your relative/friend receives will not be affected by a decision to not participate in research.

Our intensive care has a bereavement service which provides a follow up phone call to a whānau member of any person who has died in the intensive care. This is usually six weeks following a death. This can be an opportunity to receive further information or support for you and your family.

Social Worker

Social work is provided in intensive care Monday to Friday 8.00 am to 4:30 pm. During the evenings and weekends support is available via the Afterhours Emergency Social Work service. Ask your nurse or doctor involved in your whanau member’s care to contact us or phone the Social Services Department (03) 364 0420 during work hours.

Social workers are part of the critical care team in intensive care. We provide emotional support and resources to help you cope through this stressful time. Social work is able to orientate you to the ward, connect you with hospital services, and advise on available parking. We can assist with finding accommodation for you. If eligibility criteria are met we can apply for National Travel Assistance to assist with your accommodation and travel costs.     

Social workers also offer a broad range of other services:

Assist you to cope with your whānau members’ admission to intensive care.

  • Provide emotional and supportive counselling.
  • Assist whānau members to cope with concerns related to death and dying.
  • Assist whānau members to cope when there are safety concerns such as abuse or suicide.
  • Arrange whānau meetings to assist with communication between patients, their whānau and the intensive care team.
  • To communicate patient and whānau needs are incorporated in treatment plans.
  • Assist whanau to find accommodation while their loved ones are in the hospital.
  • Provide assistance for overseas whānau members. • Give practical assistance with finances, legal issues, Power of Attorney or community referrals.
  • Link you with community resources.
  • Assist with ACC information and contacts.
  • Assist with your learning about your whānau members’ care after treatment in intensive care.
  • Support and assistance with talking to your children about serious illness and death.

NGA RATONGA HOUORA MAORI – Maori Health Services

Maori Health Services are available 8.00am to 4.30pm from Monday to Friday. Our role is to assist patients and their whānau through the hospital system and make their journey as smooth as possible. We can contact whānau for you at your request e.g Iwi and whānau support. For patients, whānau and staff we offer support and cultural advice if required. We work alongside the clinical and social work team, and can liaise or advocate for whānau if required.

Te Whare Mahana is both one bedroom and marae style accommodation for whānau support persons who reside outside the Canterbury region, and open to all cultures. Please ask the Maori Health worker for further information. 

Nga Minita Maori: Maori chaplain services are available for karakia and spiritual support. If your whānau are of a particular denomination i.e. Ringatu, Ratana etc, we may be able to locate a Minita/Kaikarakia to assist.

He Wai Tapu (holy water): In the event of a family member passing away, a water bowl is available for whānau to use in intensive care, please ask a staff member if required.

Mortuary Support is available upon request through the Minita Maori service.

Internal phone numbers within Christchurch  hospital.

Maori Health Services 86160

Maori Health Worker 88078 or 027 467 7514

Te Whare Mahana 80434

Nga Minita Maori/Chaplains 89556

Pharmacist

Your pharmacist work with the intensive care team to ensure we have a record of your medicines prior to admission, including any alternative medicines taken. Pharmacists provide advice on medicines ensuring we use the best options, in the safest way possible, for your care. Important aspects of this role include optimising drug doses, assessing the risk of drug interactions and side effects. Your pharmacist also works alongside your clinical team to closely monitor drug doses especially if you are receiving any renal replacement therapies. Your pharmacist is happy to provide any information relating to your medicines.

Occupational Therapy

The aim of occupational therapy is to enhance people’s ability to be involved in activities or occupations that are meaningful to them, plus maintaining or increasing their health and well being. An occupational therapist may be involved in assessing activities to help pass time, especially if your stay in intensive care is prolonged. Occupational therapist also provides specialised equipment to protect your skin if required. They are available to provide adaptive equipment to enable you to achieve independence with daily activities.

Smoking cessation

The Canterbury District Health Board has a Smokefree policy which ensures that all buildings and grounds are Smokefree. This policy applies to all staff, patients and visitors.

  • Patient and visitors who are nicotine dependent are encouraged to use Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) patches, gum or lozenges to assist in preventing cravings while you are smokefree.
  • If you are a patient, ask for NRT to be prescribes to help with nicotine withdrawal symptoms while in hospital, as you are unable to smoke. You do not need to commit to quitting to use NRT patches, lozenges or gum in hospital.
  • Smoking cessation information (Quitpacks) will be provided on the ward.
  • On discharge, if you decide to make a quit attempt you will be given a Quitcard or prescription for NRT and referred to a community support service to assist you in staying smokefree.

Giving up smoking is the single best thing you can do to improve your health. You are more likely to stay Smokefree if you:

  • Get support
  • Use a full 8 weeks of nicotine patches, gum or lozenges.
  • Read information on quitting.

Chaplaincy Service

The purpose of Chaplaincy is to enable any person in the hospital to deal with spiritual and life issues that directly affect their sense of wellbeing. Maori, Roman Catholic and Ecumenical chaplaincy services are available 24 hours each day to meet the needs of you and your whānau. Please ask your nurse if you would like the Chaplain to visit.

Patient Complaints/Advocacy Services

The Patients Affairs Office will provide assistance and information to ensure complaints are dealt with in a timely manner. The Advocacy Services is contracted to provide advocacy for health and disability consumers, to resolve issues and complaints. The contact details are listed with the New Zealand Websites.

Interpreter services

The Interpreter Service provides resources to assist communication between the health service provider and the patient and whanau. In a health situation it is important that accurate information is given and received. Nursing and social work can arrange an interpreter (which includes sign language), which is available 24 hours a day.

Intensive Care

Outreach Intensive Care Outreach is a service provided by the intensive care team to assist with ward patients who have become progressively more unwell. They provide assistance with patient care in the Ward, and assess the requirement for admission to the intensive care unit. This service is available to all wards at Christchurch Hospital, Christchurch Womens Hospital and includes paediatric admissions. Once patients from intensive care improve and can be transferred to the Ward for ongoing care, the Intensive Care Outreach service will review you the following day to provide additional support to ward staff. This is also an opportunity to support you and your whānau, and answer any questions you may have regarding your stay in intensive care.

Arterial line – a monitoring line into an arterial blood vessel that continuously records blood pressure and can be used to take blood samples.

BIPAP/CPAP – Non-invasive breathing support involving a tight fitting mask that can deliver high flow oxygen.

Blood gas – A blood test taken from an artery that gives information about how well oxygenated the blood is.

Chest drain – a soft plastic tube placed into the chest along the lungs to allow the lungs to expand fully. This may drain air, fluid or blood.

CT (Computed tomography) – An imaging technique that is preformed in the radiology department which uses x-rays to generate a three-dimensional image.

CVL (Central venous line) – A large access line usually at the side of the neck used for intravenous fluids and medications.

ECG (Electro cardiogram) – Continuous monitoring of the patients heart rhythm and heart rate.

Endotracheal tube (ETT) – A tube placed into the trachea (airway) to enable artificial breathing support for the patient on a ventilator.

High flow nasal prongs (HFNP) – A device that sits into the nostrils delivers oxygen and provides a small amount of support with breathing.

IDC (Indwelling catheter) – provides urine drainage directly from the bladder.

Inotrope support – Strong medication given intravenously to provide support for blood pressure. Intravenous fluids (IVF) – Fluid replacement directly into a vein (blood vessel).

MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) – An imaging technique preformed in the radiology department to visualise detailed internal structures of the body. MRI uses strong magnetic fields with no radiation.

Nasogastric tube (NG) – A soft plastic tube placed into the nostril and then enters the oesophagus and stomach. This either drains the stomach contents, or can be used to provide nutrition and medication.

Oxygen saturations (O2 sats) – The measurement of oxygen levels in the blood using a finger probe which helps to determine if the patient is receiving enough oxygen.

Renal dialysis (PRISMA) – Machine attached to patient by a large blood catheter and allows toxins to be removed from the patient during acute kidney injury (AKI) or kidney failure.

Tracheostomy – An airway that is created through the neck and into the Trachea (airway) to provide more comfortable ventilation and enable the ETT to be removed from the mouth.

Ventilator – Breathing machine that provides oxygen and support with work of breathing. This can provide total support for the lungs oxygenation or partial support as the patient starts to wake.

Whānua – Family or extended family group.

Page last updated: 7 November 2018

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